Mercedes has responded to the speculation surrounding Lewis Hamilton whilst also outlining recent developments about the W14 and progression ahead of the 2023 season.
There has understandably been plenty of discussion about Lewis Hamilton’s future with the Silver Arrows, given that his existing contract with the team expires at the end of the year.
Hamilton and Mercedes have both spoken very positively about the possibility of extending their current deal, with Toto Wolff explaining last year that negotiations could take place over the winter.
However, contrary to some recent reports, a Mercedes spokesperson has revealed that negotiations have not started to extend the 7-time World Champion’s contract with the Brackley squad:
“Obviously, the winter doesn’t stop the rumor mill, and it’s been entertaining to read speculation about contract discussions when they haven’t yet begun…
“The rumors seem to have started on a French blog, Sportune, with which we don’t have a relationship – and are pretty wild in terms of what they suggest! Toto stated on record last Friday that discussions haven’t yet begun, and that’s exactly the situation.”
This is hardly a cause for alarm, considering that – as previously stated – both parties seem interested in continuing their partnership. However, with the 2023 F1 season only a few months away, it might be until after the winter break before a new deal is agreed to.
It seems reasonable that Mercedes’ level of performance and competitiveness will be critical in contract negotiations, so there is still some time before any serious discussions begin.
Aside from this, the German squad has outlined some important developments for their 2023 car:
“Work continues at high intensity at the factory – with the final FIA homologation tests being completed on the new car, operations flat out producing the componentry for the first chassis (plural) tests and development testing on sub-systems of the car and, of course, the 2023 Power unit being fine-tuned, long-runned and passed off ahead of delivery of the track test engines for Bahrain.”
When considering the gradually improving trajectory of the Mercedes W13 last year, it seems reasonable that the German squad’s second attempt to conquer these new regulations could be more fruitful.
Porpoising, one of the most prominent issues from last season, is unlikely to become a limiting factor for Mercedes this year and hinder their development. Whilst it would be an oversimplification to blame the German squad’s failure exclusively on this issue, its impact was significant.
The issue was not only the porpoising itself but the fact that Mercedes wasted significant resources throughout the year in addressing this issue – resources that would have otherwise been directed at development.
But this is no guarantee for success, especially when considering that Red Bull and Ferrari have established themselves as contenders for this new generation of F1 cars.
In any case, Mercedes has provided clarity on its contractual situation and 2023 development.