By Alan Baldwin
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have discussed the possibility of the five times Formula One champion one day racing for Ferrari and such a move would be no drama, team boss Toto Wolff has said.
Hamilton, 34, has a contract with Mercedes until the end of 2020, by which time he could have equaled Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s unprecedented seven titles and broken other records.
“You have to simply acknowledge that probably it’s in every driver’s head to drive at Ferrari one day,” Wolff told reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix.
“It’s the most iconic, historic Formula One brand out there and I totally respect if a driver has the desire to drive at Ferrari.
“Even within the team we have discussed it and with Lewis we have discussed it and we have agreed on the topic,” added the Austrian.
“We had the discussion when we negotiated the last contract and I think that you just have to be open-minded and understand that drivers will explore opportunities that exist and benchmark themselves.”
Wolff said there was no suggestion at present that the Briton wanted to move.
Hamilton has won four of his titles with the German manufacturer after his first, in 2008, with McLaren.
“I think we are providing him with a car that is capable of achieving his objectives. If we continue to have a car that is performing on that level I think there is no reason to go and we would really love him to stay,” said Wolff.
“And if one day ways part, it will be very positive and each of us will try to achieve success with a different setup. So no drama.”
Hamilton’s boyhood idol Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian triple champion who died 25 years ago, had expressed a desire to race for Ferrari but never felt they could offer a winning car.
Ferrari last won a drivers’ title in 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen, and have been eclipsed this season by Mercedes, who have racked up one-two finishes in the first four races after winning both championships for the past five years.
Asked about any Mercedes interest in Ferrari’s four times champion Sebastian Vettel, Wolff said: “Why not Sebastian?
“I think you need to consider there are probably six or seven drivers out there that have the skill and the intelligence to deserve to be in a race and championship-winning car,” he added.
“Two of them are with us and I hope it goes forever. There are a few others that we really enjoy watching perform. And Sebastian is definitely one of them.”
Wolff’s own future has been the subject of speculation, with sources linking him to a future role at Formula One’s owners Liberty Media or the governing FIA.
The Austrian, who has been talked of as a possible replacement for Formula One chairman Chase Carey post-2020, acknowledged there was a lot of talk but said he was relishing his role at Mercedes.
“I am in a super situation…I’m a shareholder in the team, I love to be with the people, the relationship matters to me. I am in a happy place and motivated every single day I do this,” he said.
“I think with all the other discussions you are having, with drivers for example, you need to be 100% with your head in your role. This is what I am. I haven’t contemplated any change beyond 2020.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)