As the 2014 season drew to a close, Lewis Hamilton’s new contract with Mercedes was put on hold until after the last race so there would be no distractions to claiming his second world championship. Having secured that, the time to talk is to resume but team boss, Toto Wolff, says that they have time in which to discuss the situation.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, via AUTOSPORT, the team boss says he has every reason to believe the Hamilton contract will be renewed but should it not come to pass, there is a backup option:
“I’m optimistic, the priority is to carry on with these drivers. Should it be impossible, then Alonso represents the top alternative, followed by [Valtteri] Bottas.” Wolff said.
Now I took some heat for my ranking Alonso as the driver of the year in 2014 but it seems that perhaps Wolff might understand why I chose Fernando saying:
“He is a dangerous rival with any car,” he explained “If he is at the wheel of a car that can finish sixth, he will take it to third place.”
I agree with him completely. McLaren have re-signed Alonso and have implied that it is a multi-year deal but as with some driver contracts there may be clauses that might allow Alonso to leave early. The option for Alonso would most likely be a welcome opportunity for the Spaniard if McLaren are unable to make significant progress with their new Honda Power Unit supply in 2015.
As for Hamilton, he jettisoned his management company intent on handling things like Sebastian Vettel does…on his own. Why pay someone 10% of a contract total if you’ve got the chops to negotiate yourself? Hamilton could find the Mercedes deal a little more difficult knowing the team has a backup plan that could be even more lethal to the competition than a Lewis/Mercedes combination represents.
I suspect this is the very reason Alonso and Bottas were mentioned in the press as to bolster the team’s negotiating position should things be a little rocky right now with the talks. If Lewis knows that he may not be as indispensable as some think he is, perhaps Mercedes are holding all the cards with the best car on the grid and the best drivers lining up to take a seat should Lewis go a bridge too far at the negotiation table.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT