Both Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton have denied that there are any contract discussions between them as the British driver continues to move towards a new deal with Mercedes.
A report in the British press claimed Ferrari was poised to make a big offer to Hamilton to sign him for 2024, with both Scuderia drivers at risk of being traded. However, on Thursday in Monaco, team boss Fred Vasseur strongly denied the reports, stating that he regularly speaks with Hamilton due to past relationships, but that it has nothing to do with a potential move.
“As a joke, I could say that two weeks ago you (the media) sent (Carlos) Sainz to Audi and a week ago you sent (Charles) Leclerc to Mercedes and now I’m alone!” Vasseur (pictured above, with Hamilton) he said. “But you know at this stage of the season you will have a different story every week and we are not sending an offer to Lewis Hamilton. We didn’t.
“We didn’t have a discussion. I think every team on the grid would love to have Hamilton on one stage, but it would be stupid not to say something like that. If I talked to Hamilton, I had discussions for the last 20 years – I discussed (something) almost every weekend with Hamilton. I don’t want to stop arguing with him because you’re chasing me.”
Vasseur says the Ferrari drivers did not need to be reassured by the rumors as all team members know there is regular speculation about contracts.
“They didn’t have to reassure me last week when you sent them to Sauber and for Charles it was Mercedes. They didn’t come to me and say, “Fred, don’t worry, it’s not true.” We are used to it – we know that we will have new rumors every week and we only focus on the event.
Following Vasseur’s comments, Hamilton also confirmed that he had almost finalized a new contract at Mercedes, but negotiations were conducted on his behalf in this case.
“I think naturally when you’re in contact negotiations there will always be speculation,” Hamilton said. “And if you don’t hear it from me, that’s all.
“I don’t know, maybe last weekend and the cancellation of the race (Imola) (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 stage of preparing the contract. That’s what I focus the team on, so I can just do my job. It’s a much better situation than before because I was negotiating myself 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 has no bearing on his feelings about staying with the team as it prepares to make a significant upgrade at Monaco.
“No, it has nothing to do with it. We’re still a championship team, we just had the wrong car and made some decisions over the last few years that weren’t ideal. We are working on it and all energy is going into the new update this weekend.
“The team has been working incredibly hard to make this improvement and after Bahrain we decided that was what we were going to do. I was a bit gutted when the last race was canceled because I was excited to try out this new package, and while it’s not the best platform in terms of track to really see it come to fruition, I hope to experience more of that next week. “