Hamilton: Everyone chasing a seat at Mercedes, including Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton says every driver and their dog has contacted Mercedes regarding a seat with the Silver Arrows squad for 2021, including his Red Bull rival Max Verstappen.

Hamilton is far from deciding his future beyond next season, his last on his current contract with Mercedes, but speculation regarding a potential future with Ferrari has ramped up lately.

Speaking on Friday in Paris before this evening’s 2019 FIA prize giving event, Hamilton addressed the whirlwind of conjecture.

“It’s an interesting time because there are lot of drivers who are seeking positions everywhere,” Hamilton said.

“The amount of calls that Toto gets from drivers — including the one [Verstappen] that was up here just recently — asking to come, everyone’s trying to leave their team to come to where we are, which is an understandable thing, because everybody wants to win and everybody wants to be a part of a winning formula.”

    Hamilton not denying Ferrari contact, dismisses ‘quick decision’

While Hamilton revealed recently a series of contacts with Ferrari chairman John Elkann, the 34-year-old admitted that departing Mercedes, to which he’s been affiliated with since he was 13, would be hard.

Queried on Friday once again about that prospect, he reiterated his sentiment.

“I love where I am, I love the people that I work with, so it’s really difficult to walk away from something that you love as much as I do. The team, the organisation, all the way through to the bosses.

“I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13, so it’s really hard to imagine myself being anywhere else.

“What we’ve built over the period that I’ve been there, in the last seven years – but obviously Mercedes have been working longer than that – at the moment is dominant.

“It’s a strong force and I think it’s taken us time to build the strength in depth from within and have the consistency we have.

“It’s not something that has just came overnight, and other teams don’t currently have the togetherness that we have in place. It takes time to build those things.”

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Hamilton’s future with the three-pointed star manufacturer also appears to be partly anchored to team boss Toto Wolff’s own personal plans beyond 2020.

If the Austrian moves leaves Mercedes, that could incite Hamilton to either join Ferrari or call it a day on his time in F1 and ride off into the sunset.

“Would it be the same without Toto? I don’t think so,” he said. “But he’s got to do what’s right for him.

“And just like I’ll know what’s right for me when I have to make that decision, he has to make the right decision for him and what’s best for him and his family and his future.

“Change is also sometimes a good thing.”

Wolff, who joined Hamilton on the stage in Paris, warned that no quick decisions regarding the future were in the cards.

“This is a process that is going to take a little bit of time, but I don’t see any surprises actually as it stands,” Wolff said.

“The two of us have been together for quite a while, we trust each other, we have gone through difficult times together and we have come out stronger with a better bond.

“Besides us, there are many others which form part of that inner circle within the team. So of course, we talk all the time where we see the team going and Lewis’ career going.”

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