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Lewis Hamilton - should he stay or should he go?

Lewis Hamilton - should he stay or should he go?

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Lewis Hamilton - should he stay or should he go?

Lewis Hamilton - should he stay or should he go?

Lewis Hamilton is Mercedes to his core.

Since the early days of his career, Hamilton has been supported by Mercedes-Benz, from his time in karting, through his Formula 3 Euroseries championship success in 2005, and on into Formula 1, initially via McLaren's partnership with the engine manufacturer, and ultimately with the team itself from 2013.

With five titles in his seven years to date with the Silver Arrows, the lure to remain, sign one last deal and see out the final years of his quite remarkable F1 career with the team, will undoubtedly be tugging at his heartstrings.

Hamilton has built up relationships on which he can undoubtedly rely. Initially, it was with the late Niki Lauda, the man who sold him on the idea that his future was with Mercedes, not McLaren. How right the three-times champion has been given the respective fates of the two teams over the past few years.

Then Toto Wolff, a man with whom Hamilton has developed such an understanding that the 35-year-old suggested towards the end of last year that if the Austrian should leave, he would seriously consider likewise.

Wolff has previously been linked with replacing Chase Carey as CEO of the Formula 1 Group, and Jean Todt as president of the FIA. "I’m waiting to see where he is, where his head is at,” said Hamilton of Wolff at the final grand prix of last season in Abu Dhabi.

Their friendship is such that the last time the pair negotiated Hamilton's current $40million-per-year deal, it was done over a period of 10 hours, primarily sat on the Briton's sofa in his Monaco apartment.

And then there is Pete Bonnington, Hamilton's race engineer, and effectively right-hand man. While perhaps unknown too many, his calming voice over the radio and phrases such as 'Get in there Lewis!" following a pole lap or race victory, and "Okay Lewis, it's hammer time!" have ensured he is an essential figure within 'Team Hamilton'.

“I’ve had Bono by my side my whole time here at this team, and you can hear our rapport when we’re in a race,” Hamilton said last year.

“Bono is fantastic at managing, because there is a lot of commotion going on on the wall and everyone is saying tell him this or tell him that, and Bono knows what to filter. He is the best filter. He always comes across as cool, calm and collected.”

For Hamilton, Mercedes is like a comfortable pair of slippers, a team he is completely at ease with, one it would be hard to separate from.

But there is a flipside, that Hamilton is a racer to the last fibre of his being, someone who, while he has become accustomed to the 'easy' life at Mercedes, will likely relish the prospect of one final challenge.

If the door is genuinely open, and by all accounts, it appears as such, then the possibility of switching to Ferrari must be distinctly appealing.

The Scuderia has not won the drivers' championship since 2007, with Kimi Raikkonen at the helm of one its cars as Hamilton stumbled at the death with the title in his grasp in his debut year.

Not even two greats of the sport since then, in Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, have managed to become Ferrari's 10th world champion, such has been the mix of fallibilities over the years between driver and team.

Can you imagine the reverie in which Hamilton would be held in the eyes of the Tifosi were he to succeed where Alonso, Vettel, and so many others before them, have failed?

It would undoubtedly be a massive gamble for Hamilton to ditch Mercedes at this stage in his life and career, exposing himself to a different culture and a different racing philosophy.

For some reason, I do not see team principal Mattia Binotto addressing the workforce at Maranello before the start of a season and declaring "Let's crush them!" as Wolff did at the beginning of last term when referring to what he wanted to do to Mercedes' rivals.

Ferrari has also now started to throw its might behind the man it believes can deliver them that long-overdue drivers' title in Charles Leclerc, that much was evident when they handed the 22-year-old a new contract over the winter, even though the one he signed upon joining the team last year was not due to expire until the end of 2021.

From the outside looking in, the young pretender against the old warrior is a battle we would all relish.

Another factor for Hamilton to consider is the fact the new wide-sweeping regulations for 2021 have been put on hold until 2022 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It means this year's cars will predominantly carry over into next season, and from what we have seen on track to date from pre-season, it appears Ferrari has some catching up to do.

Should he stay, or should he go? With the enforced lay-off, Hamilton certainly has some additional thinking time to ponder his options.

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