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Wolff admits Hamilton will need to leave Mercedes if car does not improve

JEDDAH - Toto Wol has admitted he would not blame Lewis Hamilton for seeking a move away from Mercedes if the sport’s once-dominant team fails to reverse its slump.

Hamilton’s £40m-a-year contract with the Silver Arrows expires at the end of the season and his future is under the microscope following their poor start to 2023.

Hamilton was only fth at the rst round in Bahrain before he nished a distant 11th in practice on Friday for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, one second adrift of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Although team principal Wol remains convinced that Hamilton, 38, will pen a new deal, he also said that his star driver’s head could be turned as he pursues a record eighth world championship.

“If Lewis wants to win another championship he needs to make sure he has the car,” said Wol . “And if we cannot demonstrate that we are able to give him a car in the next couple of years then he will need to look everywhere. I don’t think he is doing it at this stage, but I will have no complaints if that happens in a year or two.”

Red Bull could have a vacancy at the end of the year with Sergio Pérez operating on a 12-month deal, but it seems improbable that Hamilton would be paired alongside Verstappen. Ferrari is a possible avenue to explore if Charles Leclerc elects to engineer a move away.

But Wol added: “I am absolutely con dent [Hamilton will stay]. We are talking when we want to do it, and how, but we just need to change some terms and the dates basically. Lewis is at the stage of his career where we trust each other, we have formed a great bond and we have no reason to doubt each other even though is a di cult spell. It will be so nice when we come out of the valley of tears and return to solid performances.”

In Bahrain, Hamilton accused Mercedes of ignoring him on the development of this season’s machine.

Ahead of today’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the British driver, who on Friday announced a sudden split from his long-time ally and performance coach Angela Cullen, said “we all need a kick” and revealed “there are times when you are not in agreement with certain team members”.





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