Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Algarve, 2020

Hamilton’s Mercedes future expected to be known within a month

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In the round-up: Mercedes have indicated they will confirm their driver line-up for the 2021 F1 season before they launch their new car in one month’s time.

Mercedes to confirm driver line-up before launch

With the first day of testing for the new season 37 days away, and Mercedes due to launch their new car in exactly one month’s time, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is yet to confirm whether he will drive for Mercedes again this year. He is widely expected to agree a new contract to drive alongside Valtteri Bottas in what would be his ninth year with the team, for which he has already won six of his seven world championships.

Mercedes’ online launch event on March 3rd is due to feature the teams’ drivers. They also indicated in social media posts the identities of their 2021 drivers will be known by the time the W12 appears.

The saga over whether Formula 1’s most famous driver will agree terms to keep racing in the sport therefore looks like it has at most one month left to run.

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Ferrari in Art - The Sporting Legacy
Ferrari in Art – The Sporting Legacy

Former Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has purchased “Ferrari in Art – The Sporting Legacy”, a collection of 25 unique artworks celebrating the sport’s most famous competitor.

The works, created by artist Mark Dickens and F1 photographer Keith Sutton, were displayed at the Royal Autmobile Club in London in 2019. They feature written contributions from a wide array of Formula 1’s most famous figures including world champions Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari luminaries Piero Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, Stefano Domenicali, plus Toto Wolff, Lawrence Stroll and even Ecclestone himself.

“There has never been a collaboration like this before and I could not resist the opportunity to acquire it for my private collection,” said Ecclestone, who stepped down in charge of F1 four years ago when Liberty Media completed their takeover of the sport.

Comment of the day

Is motorsport too preoccupied with nationality?

Dropping national titles for races would perhaps make it easier to ‘globalise’ the series and reduce the impediment to two races in one country as a norm rather than as an emergency measure.

I would also like to get rid of national anthems and flag waving on the podium for the same reason so the focus is on the team and driver not the nationality of the driver or team. Ferrari will still have massive support at Italian races and Hamilton will at Silverstone. But that should be for what they are and what they do not for where they come from (although the home boy or girl or team is always going to be favoured).

And I say this as a dyed in the wool patriot and lover of our racing heritage.

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On this day in F1

Kubica led testing at Valencia today in 2011, three days before his fateful rally crash

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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66 comments on “Hamilton’s Mercedes future expected to be known within a month”

  1. Aren’t Haas interested?

  2. Re CotD: No way! I love seeing our national flag when a driver is on the podium and hearing the anthem brings tears to the eye. It’s probably because it doesn’t happen so often that it gets boring like it probably has for the germans/british but getting rid of that celebration would be really disappointing.

    Re Hamilton: The longer it drags on, the more I think it’s just a press exercise. No way Mercedes would leave it this late.

    1. I have to agree, I know it doesn’t happen very often but seeing the flag and hearing the National Anthem of the winner and the National Anthem of the winning team is all part of the F1 show, I certainly hope this does not change.

      Re Hamilton: well I am a fan but this is dragging on way too long, I hope young George has had a seat fitting etc. on the off chance a deal is not reached.

      1. The anthems are part of the show which I’d like to keep.
        Although it has some unfortunate consequences, like when I hear the German one I automatically expect the upbeat Italian one to follow.

        1. Ah, so I am not the only one there @coldfly, in a way a relief to read. Yeah, let’s keep it, what would one replace it with after all? And it does need to be a ceremony with some kind of pomp for me to feel right!

        2. when I hear the German one I automatically expect the upbeat Italian one to follow.

          When I see that Ferrari have won, I quietly groan and roll my eyes… Not because I dislike Ferrari, but because the Italian National Anthem goes on forever! It seem several times as long as any other. The fact that it is upbeat should make it the most enjoyable, but the length of it… Urgh, wake me up when it’s finished.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      3rd February 2021, 10:56

      Re Hamilton: I don’t think it’s a press exercise. I think it’s all about money but Mercedes know that they can throw Russell in the car at short notice and win the title easily anyway. They also know Hamilton wouldn’t want his legacy called into question with that happening so he’ll sign anyway – it’s a question of who will budge first and it’ll inevitably be Lewis.

    3. Agree. Flags and national anthems are a bit passé in such an international sport. Especially the pre-race malarcy with drivers at attention and cringe-inducing a capella national anthem. I can’t really watch it, and with Saudi-Arabia joining Bahrain, it’s going to be outright painful.

  3. I should hope we know what Lewis is doing in the next month – the three-day pre-season test is in a month’s time!

    1. @alianora-la-canta More than a month, so still time. It will happen nevertheless, as pre-season testing is, after all, the ultimate deadline for any driver announcement.

      1. @jerejj And we know they love deadlines. This must be about the fifth one they’ve set.

      2. @jerejj In 2012, Force India waited until 1 1/2 weeks after the first test to make a decision. I have bad memories from that one and do not wish to see a repeat.

  4. I agree with @Witan’s comment of the day. I will go further and say the national anthems are pathetic. What day and age do we live in, for goodness sake? God save the Queen? Never mind all those other rubbish countries.

    The last part was a facetious joke.

    No, not fascist. Facetious.

    Sorry, I’ve been drinking. Heavily.

    I can understand countries wanting to promote themselves after all the dosh they’ve spent on hosting the event but it still riles me.

    1. Best you stay away from the keyboard then lol.

      I hope you don’t watch International Rugby, the Olympics or any other major sporting competition where the National Anthems are played, and what’s wrong with a bit of patriotism.

      1. At least in those sports you have national teams competing against one another, which has never been the case in F1.

        Anyone remember A1GP? Exactly.

        1. Technically it is not too dissimilar to individual sports at the Olympics. One participates based on a national license/endorsement.

          1. The only participant in F1 that had a form of endorsement/licence from their country that comes to mind is Pastor Maldonado.

        2. I agree you have national teams in the Olympics competing against each other but the majority of events are individual and not team, therefore they play the National Anthem of the winning competitor .

          I remember A1GP although I must admit I hardly watched it.

          1. I actually quite enjoyed A1GP (I recall Jos Verstappen winning a race in South Africa with a last-lap overtake, and a wet race at Zandvoort which the US car nearly won by staying out on dry tyres – I think a young Nico Hulkenberg was the eventual winner) but the point was more that “national teams” in motorsport have not ever really been a thing, except for that one short-lived gimmick.

            In the Olympics, even the individual athletes compete under the banner of a national team (e.g. “Team GB”).

    2. I would disagree. I think the anthems add much to the pageantry of the podium ceremony and sense of grandeur the sport has cultivated. To remove them is not to globalize F1, but instead to remove any sense of location. The sense of international conflict, while extremely superficial, also lends a greater sense of risk to the competition.

      1. Well said @realnigelmansell, that’s my feeling too. And cringing, or wondering, etc. about various national anthems is part of the ‘fun’ of it (esp. if you know more about the history of how they came about!).

    3. It saddens me when people want to move further away from a direct democracy, towards a globalist state run by technocrats

  5. Someone should send a note to N. Hulk.
    Keep training, ya just never know.

    1. Why, George Russell is ready and waiting for the opportunity.

      1. Someone has to drive the Williams..

        1. Well one could argue that Hulkenberg could do that if Russell was to join Mercedes.

          1. Exactly. That’s what NS Biker was suggesting.

        2. @me4me, I am sure some billionaire’s son will step up and fill that role if needed.

  6. LH keeping himself relevant and in the news. That’s what “Influencers” strive for…………

    1. Who ever came up with the idea of calling ‘influencer’ an occupation?

      Just ask yourself what the person is really known for when they call themselves, or be called by others, an influencer. You’ll end without a clear answer in many occasions, which in itself says a lot about that person.

      1. Often found myself under your influence, @coldfly. Probably just a hobby for you tho… gifted amateur influencer?

        1. gifted amateur influencer

          Maybe I’ll have a go as my stand-up-comedian tenure failed miserably and stopping my early retirement escapade after running out of money (best 23 days of my life).

          1. after running out of money (best 23 days of my life).

            sounds like a monthly happening.

      2. @coldfly Several people did, about the same time as influencers started to earn enough money from influencing (specifically, by receiving a cut of the increased sales of particular items that occurred due to people seeing their content – which avoided sales techniques and artifice used by salespeople’s pitches – and buying the item). By “influencing” the purchase, these people were seen to have helped companies be profitable for similar reasons to salespeople (but with a 21st-century twist: implicit social engineering). The term has broadened to the point where most professional influencers make their money from something more nebulous than that, but this is the etymological root of the occupation’s name.

        1. So they are simply sales people, @alianora-la-canta, either on a commission and/or on a fixed fee.

          I wonder then how they rank versus car sales people and real estate agents on the sleaziness scale?

          1. @coldfly More variable, because the market is less mature and they’re generally more independent than, say, real estate agents/professional house-sellers. They run the full gamut from extremely ethical to “don’t touch with a 10-foot bargepole”.

          2. Well, the Kardashians are influencers, so………….

      3. @coldfly

        I think that it says more about human nature. Most people fancy themselves to be rational and independent, but that is rarely true. ‘Normal’ people tend to mimic success, which is why sponsoring works. On a subconscious level, people think that they’ll be as successful as Verstappen, if they drink Red Bull.

        1. Meanwhile, there’s water in Verstappen’s Red Bull water bottle. There’s no way in hell his trainer would ever let him drink what amounts to hot August night’s hooker sweat.

          1. It isn’t water. It is basically super Gatorade, tailored to the person.

  7. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
    3rd February 2021, 5:39

    From COTD:

    I would also like to get rid of national anthems and flag waving on the podium for the same reason so the focus is on the team and driver not the nationality of the driver or team.

    Quite right. I always find myself getting hopelessly confused when the anthems start playing and the flags start waving. Is that Lewis Hamilton up there on the podium, or is it Lando Norris? It really is almost impossible to tell them apart when the Union Jack is doing its thing. Good thing Mercedes is the only German team on the grid. Could you imagine if, for example, Haas were also German? There would be no way to figure out during the anthem which of the two teams had won!

    Srsly, though.

    One thing F1 is not lacking is focus on the drivers and teams. The anthems and the flags take nothing away from them, nor do they take anything away from anyone else. Simply put, the anthems and the flags harm no one, so why fix what isn’t broken?

    Besides, F1 is a world championship, and its drivers and teams do come from a variety of different countries. One could almost view this as a form of diversity. Why should this particular form of diversity be swept under the rug? Why not celebrate it instead? And while we’re on the subject of celebrating: I get that some people are used to hearing their country’s anthem being played on the podium at almost every race, and I get that it probably gets old after a while, but for people from other countries, it doesn’t happen very often – so when it does happen, it’s a nice touch.

  8. I believe F1 has a lot of problems and national anthems aren’t a part of them. I don’t mind hearing national anthems, I think it is a part of the show. And my country never had an F1 driver.

    1. Always love hearing the Italian anthem, it’s so upbeat

  9. Re COTD: I disagree

    Both Albon and Lawson should have the Red Bull livery for the sake of fairness.

    The car in Will Power’s tweet sounds somewhat like an F1 V6 Turbo. Furthermore, the shift light pattern is different, although three past F1 cars had them the same way, and those are Toyota TF109, BMW Sauber F1.09, and Renault R30.

    Finally, some points from Zehnder’s interview: The UK has the fifth-highest infection figures, so yes, there could be lockdown and stuff, although the British GP isn’t due until July 18, so still plenty of time for the situation to improve. Monaco and Baku, yes, could end up at risk. I wonder what is his reference to Nurburgring given that Germany is 10th in infection rates, not higher.
    For pre-season testing, he said that the team would fly home in between. He, of course, was only talking for his team, but why would they voluntarily do unnecessary back-and-forth travelling when they’re already in the right place? F1 people travel a lot in general, so one would think they’d minimize extra travelling to the greatest extent.

  10. What a thriller. Cant wait to see how it ends.

  11. Honestly, at this point I’m so tired of the whole “he will definitely sign in the next [insert arbitrary time span here]” spiel that I kinda want the negotiations to utterly fail and Sir Lewis sitting the whole year out.

    For giggles, have Lance Stroll take the seat because why not at this point.

    1. Maldonado deserves a shot in the Merc.


      1. Capital idea. They can revive the old This Much Time Since the Human Torpedo Last Crashed website.

  12. @keithcollatine would it be possible to have an article showing which drivers and teams are most popular among racefans members, and which other motorsports are the most popular as well. I think these would be quite interesting statistics, as the driver/team one in particular is not something that is often measured.

  13. Can’t wait to know whats gonna happen

  14. Re Hamilton: So it’s on the car launch day confirmed then?

    1. They’ll put a sheet over Lewis and unveil him.

  15. In regard to the COTD I suppose they could also get rid of the traditional team names and race with the sponsors/owners names in stead. RedBull are already there so we may end up watching the McDonalds GP with teams called Pepsi Max or Amazon racing. Ferrari could be in a bit of trouble with their Marlboro sponsorship, I hear Rich Energy are keen to get back into F1.
    It’s come close before with individual teams, so when you think about it it’s not that far fetched…unfortunately.

    1. Jose Lopes Silva
      3rd February 2021, 11:11

      I wouldn’t mind have two backmarckers teams called McDonalds and Burger King. Or Coca Cola and Pepsi. Or Adidas and Nike. Seriously, why not. He could have a full grid or 26 cars or more.
      That’s way better than having Stroll in an “Aston Martin”, which is not Aston Martin, it’s Stroll Grand Prix.

      1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        3rd February 2021, 17:13

        Stroll GP sounds good.
        How about bringing back single car teams?

  16. Jose Lopes Silva
    3rd February 2021, 10:08

    I’m with Ecclestone on this one, this seems for Netflix. Ever since 1993 that we don’t have such a thing.

    Actually, I think they could do like Senna and Dennis and go on a one-race basis. Russell is Hakkinen and Bottas is Andretti, of course.

  17. That AMuS interview with Beat Zehnder was a great read, definite recommend for everyone who can follow German; interesting tidbit about Sochi, but also useful insight how the team saw the season. They weren’t much in the spotlight bc. car/pu combo was mediocre and they didn’t have much surprisingly good, or bad stuff happening; the article was a good reminder they too are a group of genuine racers at heart.

  18. Hamilton thinks he has the whip hand here, but it’s Mercedes. A lot of top drivers would almost drive for free in 2021 to have Hamilton’s seat. It’s a guaranteed championship as long as you are faster than Bottas (Russell was quicker after a few practice sessions despite not fitting in the car, car set up for Hamilton, so it can’t be too hard being quicker than Bottas).

    Toto strikes me as a weakish operator. Never really challenged in the hybrid era with their massive head start on the field, when they have been challenged on occasion it’s a laundry list of excuses, team goes into panic mode. When Merc panic they panic big time. In a straight fight with RBR, Horner would outwit Toto 4/5 times.

    I think Toto will pay up at the end of the day. He won’t want Hamilton offside and made to fill that the last 7 years were for nothing.

    Daimler is a lot stronger and know they hold all the aces. I suspect Daimler has told Toto if you want him you personally come up with the difference that he wants. We’re only giving him this amount, take it or leave it.

    The smart move is sign up Russell for this year and that $40 million you save this year put towards a Verstappen signing bonus for 2022. Verstappen vs Russell in a Merc in 2022 is a mouth watering prospect and won’t cost anymore than hiring Hamilton for his retirement tour.

    1. So they sign Russell for a few pennies; who according to you will win the WDC without breaking sweat, then bring Max in to go up against the current reigning WDC? Why, when Russell is doing the job for $20 million less than Max?
      And I assume you believe all the sponsors that are there now because of Ham (Hilfiger, Pilot, etc) will stay; and those who make vast profits off Hamilton (IWC, etc) won’t have a problem losing that money. So I’m not sure where you get this saving of $40 million?
      But I’m interested in how Daimler hold all the cards when they are only a third share holder? Did Ratcliffe buy a third of the team on condition he has no say in the team?
      Notwithstanding that, I do understand why you repeatably stress you don’t want your boy Max going up against Hamilton under any circumstances.

      1. I still say I don’t think Mercedes and LH are playing games with each other, for I see them as family. I think we’ll hear an announcement at whatever point in time, and they will say there was never the issues or the head-butting over money that people have speculated on, but rather just sorting fine details about marketing obligations for LH. But that said, at the bare bones of it LH needs Mercedes if he wants to continue smashing the records, full stop. Mercedes would continue to be very strong without LH, but there is nowhere else for LH to go if he wants to continue to compile the numbers. I just don’t think Mercedes is holding his feet to the fire on that though, flashing that reality in his face like he doesn’t already know it, unless of course LH is forcing them to remind him so with unreasonable demands. Again with the bare bones of it, I would think the last thing LH should do if he wants to continue racking up the numbers, is make money an object towards that goal. Theoretically, he should be offering to drive for free, or at least be willing to, not that I would expect that to have been his opening remark at the negotiating table lol.

      2. ian dearing, for that matter, he’ll rather abruptly stop claiming that he wants any degree of competitiveness in the sport either, I’d wager. Suddenly, it would be all about making Mercedes as dominant as he possibly can if he can fantasise about a scenario where Max drives for them…

  19. My theory with no evidence to back it up is that Lewis has already signed and they’re just milking the story. If they have some real balls, they’ll let Lewis skip the launch and first testing all together and not say anything about it until the first race.

    1. @lancer033 I’ve seen a few people raising this theory but I can’t understand how it would benefit either party? Hamilton is ‘widely expected’ to re-sign so the announcement, when it comes, will not be a surprise, and prolonging the conversation only serves to increase damaging speculation about friction between driver and team.

      Furthermore, as @dieterrencken pointed out in his column on the topic the other week, it is unlikely that news of a deal, if done, would remain secret for long. It would almost certainly be leaked before an official announcement. The lack of rumours from the usual places suggest that no deal has yet been signed.

      1. I can’t understand how it would benefit either party?

        While I don’t believe a contract is already signed, I can certainly see how it could be advantageous to do so. They are getting mentioned almost daily in the motorsport press, which will drop off once they announce a contract. This is good for both parties and all their sponsors, as it keeps them (and their sponsors) in focus in the minds of the public. It’s the old adage: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

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