F1 ponders next moves after Hamilton deal

Jul.20 (GMM) The Hockenheim paddock is buzzing with the news that Lewis Hamilton’s new two-year Mercedes contract has finally been announced.

Some publications say the deal is in excess of $50 million per year, but team chairman Niki Lauda said that’s “a joke”.

And Hamilton said: “I don’t talk about those details.”

Arguably more interesting is the knock-on effect that the Hamilton deal will have.

For instance, Ferrari is yet to announce Sebastian Vettel’s teammate for 2019.

“Obviously I won’t wait forever, but the decision is up to the team,” said Kimi Raikkonen.

And Vettel himself advised Ferrari and Charles Leclerc not to “rush” into a deal.

“For me it’s clear where I am next but I think both of them would suit into the team,” said the German.

Then there is what Daniel Ricciardo will do next.

“Nothing has changed since Silverstone,” said the Australian.

Another candidate for Hamilton’s Mercedes seat was Esteban Ocon, who now appears likely to stay at Force India. But although a Mercedes junior, the Frenchman is also linked with Renault.

“As long as there are rumours, that’s good for a driver. They’re talking about you,” Ocon smiled.

Renault’s Carlos Sainz, on loan to Renault and waiting for Ricciardo, said: “I don’t know if it (the Hamilton contract) means that I stay.

“He is staying but Ricciardo has not signed and until there is movement there, my situation will not change.”

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, told reporters: “For me, it doesn’t change anything at all.”

What is fairly clear is that, now that Hamilton is definitely staying at Mercedes, a new deal for Valtteri Bottas will surely follow.

When asked about his contract situation, the Finn smiled at Hockenheim: “What contract?

“I am sure there will be positive news soon,” Bottas added.

“I’m faster this year, better in the races and closer to Lewis. The results don’t always show it but the team knows, and that’s what counts for me,” he said.

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