Ferrari confirm Lewis Hamilton talks: ‘We are flattered he wants to join us’

MATT MAJENDIE
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Ferrari have admitted for the first time to holding talks with Lewis Hamilton about signing the six-time world champion for the 2021 season.

Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes expires at the end of next season and Ferrari chief executive Louis Camilleri raised the possibility that the Briton could replace long-term rival Sebastian Vettel at the team beyond that.

“It has been made public that Lewis has had conversations with our chairman [John Elkann],” said Camilleri. “We clearly are very flattered that Lewis, in particular, and other drivers want to come and join us. Every driver on the grid would like to drive a Ferrari.

“We have a long-term agreement with one driver [Charles Leclerc] and the other driver’s [Vettel] agreement expires at the end of 2020. It would be premature to decide anything now for the future. We will look at our options and see what is the best fit for our team.”

Hamilton recently said his next contract would be his last and that he was considering a switch from Mercedes, the team he joined from McLaren for the 2013 season and where he was won five world titles. After winning the

season-ending Abu Grand Prix, he said: “I love where I am so it is definitely not a quick decision to go and do something else. So it is only smart and wise to sit and think about what I want if it is the last phase of my career.”

But the 34-year-old said his decision rested heavily on the future of team boss Toto Wolff, who has been linked with a move to replace Chase Carey as the boss of Formula One. Camilleri, though, said Ferrari would be willing to use their veto to block Wolff from taking up any such post, a move that could make Hamilton less likely to leave Mercedes.

He added: “Anybody who has been an active and important player in a certain team within the last few years to take on the responsibility at F1 would create a conflict of interest.

“It would not be a good thing should he ultimately run F1. Our position is if Mattia Binotto [Ferrari team principal] was the candidate to replace Chase, the rest of the paddock would not be too happy. We could explain our position quite clearly to Liberty [F1’s owners].”

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