Lewis Hamilton has dismissed rumours of Charles Leclerc joining Mercedes, saying they have “no impact” on his contract negotiations. The seven-time world champion, whose contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the 2023 Formula 1 season, has not yet signed a new deal with the team.
However, Hamilton remains unfazed by reports of Leclerc potentially moving to the Silver Arrows, despite Red Bull chief Helmut Marko speculating that an exit clause could be feasible for Leclerc to leave Ferrari a year early.
Hamilton when asked if the rumours had any impact on his contract negotiations, he said: “No, not really.
“I think maybe some of the drivers all have different relationships with different bosses and stuff. I like where I am, I love my team, and I’m grateful for the journey we’ve been on and what we’re working on moving forwards. So, it doesn’t have any impact, no.”
Hamilton also expressed his support for the new sprint format that was introduced this week. When asked if he supports the ‘sprint shootout’ introduction, Hamilton replied: “Absolutely. It’s going to be tough for everybody but we’re all in the same boat, what a track to do it at. We have good races here, it’s definitely difficult to have just 20 laps than straight into qualifying.”
Despite finishing second in Australia last time out, Hamilton recognizes that Mercedes has a long way to go until they make up the “crazy ground” to Red Bull. Hamilton remains optimistic, however, stating that upgrades will be introduced and that they are on the right path towards progress.
He added, “It will be an upgrade naturally [when upgrades are introduced] but the start of a new path for us, at the core the same car but part of the path to where we want to be. We’re not making up that crazy ground that there is. But it’s really positive – it takes time to progress in the right direction so I’m excited for it.”
Hamilton’s comments come as Mercedes face stiff competition from Red Bull, who currently leads the Constructors’ Championship by a considerable margin. With the introduction of the sprint format, there is hope that Mercedes can close the gap and challenge Red Bull for the top spot.
As the season progresses, it remains to be seen if Hamilton will sign a new contract with Mercedes, but he remains focused on his current team and their goals for the future.