Toto Wolff has admitted he wouldn’t blame Lewis Hamilton for searching for a transfer away from Mercedes if the game’s once-dominant crew fails to reverse its droop.
Hamilton’s £40million-a-year contract with the Silver Arrows expires on the finish of the season and his future is below the microscope following their poor begin to 2023.
Hamilton was solely fifth on the first spherical in Bahrain earlier than he completed a distant eleventh in apply on Friday for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, one second adrift of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Although crew principal Wolff stays satisfied that Hamilton, 38, will pen a brand new deal, he additionally mentioned that his star driver’s head may very well be turned as he pursues a report eighth world championship.
“If Lewis wants to win another championship he needs to make sure he has the car,” mentioned Wolff.
“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 might have a emptiness on the finish of the 12 months with Sergio Perez working on a 12-month deal, but it surely appears unbelievable that Hamilton can be paired alongside Verstappen.
Ferrari is a doable avenue to discover if Charles Leclerc elects to engineer a transfer away.
But Wolff added: “I am absolutely confident [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 difficult 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 event of this season’s machine.
Here, the British driver, who on Friday introduced a sudden cut up from his long-time ally and efficiency coach Angela Cullen, mentioned “we all need a kick” and revealed “there are times when you are not in agreement with certain team members”.
“There are emotions at play with him, with me and with many others in the team,” mentioned Wolff.
“We wear our hearts on our sleeves and sometimes you say things that are translated in a controversial or polarising way which inside the team never causes waves.
“If I am watching a race that doesn’t go well I would also say, ‘I am not happy how the car has been developed’. That is okay.
“We want the emotions to be high and we want tough love and nobody is not going to take that on the chin in the team.”
Verstappen’s arrival in Jeddah was delayed by 24 hours with a abdomen bug, however the double world champion returned from his sick mattress to set the quickest occasions in each apply periods.
In the day’s second operating he completed two tenths away from Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, with Sergio Perez third within the different Red Bull. George Russell was fifth, half-a-second again from Verstappen.