Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes contract update, Max Verstappen prospects, George Russell theory

F1: Lewis Hamilton goes cross-country skiing

Lewis Hamilton still hasn’t signed a new contract with Mercedes, despite winning a seventh F1 Drivers’ Championship last year. There’s been plenty written and said about the 36-year-old and his future over the past week. So we’ll now take a look back at the latest developments over the last seven days.

Mercedes contract update

At the beginning of the week, Hamilton suggested he was still readying himself to be driving in 2021 – suggesting there were a lot of ‘moving parts’ involved.

”Hey World, I haven’t been on here for a while. I’m in the mountains training everyday, getting my mind and body right,” he posted on Instagram.

“I’m hiking to the top of the mountain every morning. Three of those hikes I cross country ski once I get to the top which is at 3400m, killer.

“I love altitude training, there is less oxygen high up so working out is much harder than at sea level, just walking up the stairs you feel it at 2000m.

“Normal when I finish training here and return to sea level running is such a breeze. I’m trying to find the right balance in cardio and strength building.

“On top of that, lots of work ongoing in the background. Many moving parts but just checking in to let you know I’m doing good, I’m healthy and mentally strong right now in my bubble.”

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Max Verstappen prospects

Max Verstappen has been linked with a move to Mercedes if Hamilton doesn’t extend his stay with the Silver Arrows.

And PlanetF1 put the chances of this happening as ‘doubtful’, but also express a belief that a sensational switch is also possible.

Whether Verstappen would leave a team catered to his needs at Red Bull is uncertain, with the Belgian-Dutch driver their undisputed main man.

But, if Hamilton doesn’t sign, it’s feasible he’ll be earmarked as a potential replacement along with George Russell.

George Russell idea pitched

Former F1 driver Arturo Merzario has pitched the idea that Hamilton doesn’t want George Russell to be his partner at Mercedes.

“It is probably not far from the truth that Hamilton does not want a teammate like that,” he told De Telegraaf.

“For him, Valtteri Bottas is much better.

“Everyone in racing knows the rule that your first opponent is always your teammate in the same car.

“But Hamilton needs to be clear that things are changing.

“Sooner or later as a driver you come to the point where the younger ones overtake you. It’s like that in every job – why should it be any different in Formula 1?”

Hamilton ‘probably thinks’ Sir Jim Ratcliffe will cover pay demands

Hamilton probably thinks INEOS head Sir Jim Ratcliffe will cover his salary demands with Mercedes, according to F1 commentator Alexey Popov.

“The British press writes about him every day,” he told his podcast.

“The Italians, the Dutch too. Eddie Jordan says he wouldn’t take it, Ecclestone has talked about it. Everyone is trying to figure out what he wants.”

He then added: “The head of Ineos, Ratcliffe, is also a sir, as is Hamilton now.

“Lewis probably thinks that if Mercedes can’t pay him in full, Ratcliffe – one of the richest men in the UK – will cover the difference.”

Verstappen better than Hamilton – Horner

Red Bull chief Christian Horner thinks Hamilton isn’t the best driver in F1 – and that Verstappen is instead.

“Yes, I think he is the best, and George Russell’s performance at Mercedes confirmed that for me.

He then added: “Max and Lewis stand out for me, but although we should definitely not be blind to what Hamilton has achieved, he does have a good package at his disposal.

“That while Max has to get more out of his car.

“At Mercedes, a Williams driver can qualify himself directly on the front row and Russell almost won the race.

“However, if at Red Bull someone had to get into Verstappen’s car, for example if Max had corona, nobody would reach his level.

“His qualifying performances are of an exceptional level and his race craft is excellent, just like his tyre management.”

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