Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton have both denied that there has been any contract discussions between the two, as the British driver continues to move toward a new Mercedes deal.
A report in the British press claimed Ferrari was ready to make a major offer to Hamilton to sign him for 2024, with both of the Scuderia’s drivers at risk of being replaced. However, in Monaco on Thursday, team principal Fred Vasseur strongly denied the report, stating he regularly speaks to Hamilton given the past relationship but that has nothing to do with a potential move.
“As a joke, I could say two weeks ago you (media) sent (Carlos) Sainz to Audi and one week ago you sent (Charles) Leclerc to Mercedes and now I am alone!” Vasseur (pictured above, with Hamilton) said. “But you know that at this stage of the season you will have each week a different story and we are not sending an offer to Lewis Hamilton. We didn’t do it.
“We didn’t have discussions. I think every single team on the grid would like to have Hamilton at one stage, but it would be bulls**t to not say something like this. If I have discussed with Hamilton, I have had discussions the last 20 years — I have discussed (something) almost every single weekend with Hamilton. I don’t want to have to stop having discussions with him because you are chasing me.”
Vasseur says the Ferrari drivers did not require appeasing after the rumors surfaced, as all team members know there is regular speculation surrounding contracts.
“They didn’t have to reassure me last week when you sent them to Sauber, or for Charles it was Mercedes. They didn’t come to see me and say, ‘Fred, don’t worry, it’s not true.’ We are used to it — we know that each week we will have new rumors and we are just focused on the event.”
Following Vasseur’s comments, Hamilton also confirmed that he has nearly finalized a new contract at Mercedes, but that the negotiations have been done on his behalf on this occasion.
“I think, naturally, when you are in contact negotiations there is always going to be speculation,” Hamilton said. “And unless you hear it from me, that’s all it is.
“I don’t know, maybe with last weekend and the (Imola) race being cancelled (the reporter) just got bored. But my team is working closely behind the scenes with Toto (Wolff, Mercedes team principal) and we are almost at the point of having the contract ready. I’m having the team focused on that so I can just do my job. It’s a much better position than I used to be in before, because I used to do the negotiations on my own and it was very stressful. I don’t have to do that anymore.”
Asked specifically if Ferrari had been in contact, Hamilton replied: “No.”
Hamilton says the recent lack of competitiveness from Mercedes does not have an impact on his feelings towards staying with the team, as it prepares to introduce a significant update in Monaco.
“No, it doesn’t have a bearing. We are still a championship-winning team, it’s just we’ve had the wrong car and made some decisions over the past few years that have not been ideal. We are working through that and all the energy is going towards the new upgrade this weekend.
“The team has worked incredibly hard to bring this upgrade and we already decided after Bahrain it was what we are going to do. I was a little bit gutted when the last race got cancelled because I was excited to try this new package, and while here is not the best platform track-wise to really see those come to fruition, we will hopefully experience that more next week.”