Which team could Lewis Hamilton realistically join if he was to depart Mercedes?
It has been a frustrating 12 months for F1 legend Lewis Hamilton. The seven-time Formula 1 world champion has found the going considerably tougher with Mercedes in the last year, with the car seemingly nowhere near up to scratch compared with the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and even Aston Martin.
Last season’s damp squib of a season for Mercedes and Hamilton seemingly compounded the misery of Hamilton missing out on that eighth world title in the 2021 season at the whim of Michael Masi. Hamilton even went as far as admitting Mercedes’ 2022 car was “undrivable”. Hamilton still managed nine podium finishes last season but failed to win a single race or even qualify on pole – something that’s never happened in his F1 career before.
The Red Bull car already looks so dominant that the bookmakers are pricing the F1 Drivers Championship 2023 betting market as a two-horse race between Red Bull teammates Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. Verstappen is the clear favourite at -410 with FanDuel Sportsbook, with Perez priced at +1100 and potentially the value pick right now. FanDuel is certainly one of the most respected sites in the US market for odds. The latest FanDuel promo code now covers 16 US states, such has been its expansion since launching in September 2018.
Lewis Hamilton just so happens to be the joint-fourth favourite for the world title alongside Charles Leclerc, priced at +2900, but those odds are more of a reflection of Hamilton’s qualities as a driver than the qualities of the Mercedes car. With that in mind, Mercedes’ CEO, Toto Wolff, recently admitted that Hamilton was within his rights to seek a move elsewhere for the 2024 F1 season if the team cannot solve the car conundrum in time.
Wolff also acknowledged that Hamilton lacked “trust” in the W14 car and the lack of feedback makes it hard for him to “really push” it to the limits. After qualifying behind teammate George Russell at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton said he didn’t “feel connected” to this season’s car but was “giving it absolutely everything” to try and make an impression on the field.
If Hamilton’s woes continue and he seeks a clean break from Mercedes in 2024, where could he realistically go to mount a fresh challenge for an eighth world title?
Lewis Hamilton recently admitted that this season’s Red Bull had the potential to be the best car in the history of F1. It’s therefore no surprise that we consider the prospects of Hamilton moving to Red Bull for the 2024 F1 season.
Although Hamilton deserves to drive one of the best F1 cars, the reality is that a link-up with Red Bull is almost certainly out of the question. First and foremost, Hamilton would have to be a teammate of Max Verstappen. There is no love lost between the pair since the 2021 season and Verstappen is contracted to Red Bull until 2028. The Dutchman is their undisputed number-one and Sergio Perez seems happy to play second fiddle too.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner revealed that Perez had also committed his medium-term future to the team, with Perez already contracted for the 2024 season.
F1 romantics will probably be frothing at the mouth over the potential for Hamilton to line up in a Ferrari. Former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan insisted to The Independent recently that the sport “needs” to see Hamilton behind the wheel of a Ferrari before the 38-year-old retires.
With Red Bull a no-go, Hamilton and his advisors may see Ferrari as the only legitimate solution to try and find a car that can help him fight for that elusive eighth world title. Ferrari may even view Hamilton as an upgrade to Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who have flattered to deceive at times.
Jordan pondered the possibility of Mercedes and Ferrari negotiating some kind of swap deal involving Hamilton and Leclerc. This move would allow George Russell to battle Leclerc for the number-one spot in Mercedes and free up Hamilton to become the clear number-one for the Scuderia. Ferrari would also be most willing to meet Hamilton’s contractual demands from a financial perspective.
A return to a British F1 team would be a great way for Hamilton to bow out from the sport. Aston Martin have been the most improved team in the last 12 months and Red Bull’s Horner recently acknowledged they had made a “big step” forward in the concept of their car. In fact, Aston Martin could be Mercedes’ number-one rivals in the 2023 F1 season with Red Bull likely to be way out in front.
Veteran driver Fernando Alonso has been in imperious form of late with Aston Martin. Could Hamilton consider teaming up with Alonso again and reignite their partnership previously forged at McLaren? Like Verstappen, there has been fireworks between Hamilton and Alonso in the last 12 months, with a collision in the first lap of last season’s Belgian Grand Prix sparking an angry reaction from the Spaniard.
We’ll end with something of a leftfield solution, but Alpine are certainly one of the up-and-coming teams in the Constructors’ Championship. The French team is the only team to partner with compatriots Renault, but they have made real strides of late. In his preview of the 2023 F1 season, Hamilton mentioned that Alpine had “been doing amazing” things and he hoped that it would be more than a two-way team battle this season.
Alpine finished the 2022 season at the top of the midfield pile, finishing fourth and 14 points ahead of Hamilton’s former team McLaren. Alpine’s upgrade packages have also been warmly received in the industry, with the A523 model incorporating a revamped nose and front wing, including a rehash of the raised nose tip that didn’t pay dividends for the likes of AlphaTauri and Aston Martin in 2022. Nevertheless, Alpine registered eight points in the Constructors’ Championship in Jeddah and will be hoping to continue that trend. Whether they could afford Hamilton’s salary is another question altogether. However, there would seem to be more chance of Hamilton compromising with an upwardly mobile team like Alpine than returning to McLaren where it all began.
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