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It seems that the contract negotiations are going well according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and he’s not expecting any surprise retirements from his 4-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

‘I think Lewis is a free spirit,’ Wolff said. ‘Lewis doesn’t want to be put in a box with people saying, “You need to behave like this and do this to be a racing driver”.

‘One of the key things for him is to be free and be able to decide what he wants to do. And in a certain way, keeping all the options open is something that takes pressure off of him.

‘He could be doing something completely different in a year or two or three’s time and I am aware of that, but equally I know he will protect the structure and not just say, “I’m out of here tomorrow”. But this is part of his strength actually.’

I’ve read a few articles where Lewis has been described as a “free spirit” and just wants his freedom and flexibility. For me, that makes a lot of sense when I look at how much he’s sacrificed to achieve what he has and how structured and regimented his life has been.

He’s a great driver but perhaps he sees a lot more to life than what he’s currently doing and with any future contract, he wants the freedom to explore that life. Look at Fernando Alonso and his open contract to race in other series and do other things.

Lewis’s contract expires at the end of 2018 and perhaps he has another three-year deal in him before he ventures off to other things? Lewis is indeed a free spirit but for me, the bigger question is who Mercedes may groom for his replacement. They may only have three years to do so and is Valtteri Bottas that man?

Hat Tip: Mail

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • PatrickoftheLDP

    As for Bottas, perhaps I’m one of those inclined to give him a bit more room, but his high points from the season (and there were several) suggest that he can indeed boss that car, and likely in a more consistent fashion next season. Always seemed to me that he had to acclimate to a more technically sophisticated and “moody” car this year, did what was asked of him, and showed several glimpses of how well he could perform moving forward.

    • Shocks&Awe

      Never say never, but Bottas has more to prove now than he did say in 2014, IMO. He doesn’t have the race craft of HAM, the fearlessness of VER, the ruthlessness of VET, the skill of ALO and nothing of his own to point to.

      Ocon, until proven otherwise is the heir-apparent. IMO.

      • Salvu Borg

        If as you say Bottas have nothing of his own, all those that gave him a seat in F1 has a brain which is worse than that of a donkey.

        • Shocks&Awe

          I enjoy hyperbole as much as the next person, but that’s a bit silly.

          All it means is that Bottas has never really fulfilled the potential we all thought he had. Until you’ve got a race seat in a decent F1 car, you are, by definition, unproven. No one knows. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance, as they say. And Bottas is hardly a terrible driver. He’s just not at the very top level. Every driver in F1 is capable of winning a championship given the right circumstances. They are all extremely good at what they do. But there are those few that have proven they have that little bit more — and are multi-champions as a result. All the others I mentioned have proven that. Even Verstappen, though he hasn’t won a championship, IMO has shown he has that little bit extra — time will tell if I’m wrong about him. But the others certainly support my point.

          Bottas on the other hand has under-performed more than he as over-performed. Again, IMO.

  • MIE

    Bottas seemed to have a better handle on the car at the beginning of the year, but fell further behind Hamilton once the car had been developed to suit the Briton. There would appear to be differences in how the two Mercedes drivers like the car that will give one or other an advantage. Understandably, they are favouring the four tie champion over the three time race winner. If in 2018 Bottas can change his driving style to cope better with a car set up for Hamilton then he may have a long term future with the team.

  • subcritical71

    Bottas is very much an understated driver. He doesn’t stick his elbows out to let people know he is there and doesn’t have the standout traits that some of the others have, he is sort of this generations Mark Weber. A great driver, but not one of the greats (yet). But he’s only been in this series for a few years now I’m sure we haven’t seen the best come out yet.

  • jakobusvdl

    Sorry folks, but as a Rosberg fanboy, I have to go there…..’Lewis doesn’t want to be put in a box with people saying, “You need to behave like this and do this to be a racing driver”.’ Apparently that attitude doesn’t extend to other F1 free spirits ;-)

  • jakobusvdl

    I guess a big part of Hamilton’s decision will be based on the continued competitiveness of the Mercedes car and team. If they suddenly found they couldn’t achieve better than third for a couple of seasons, I expect the pull of the other things that Hamilton wants to do in life would grow much stronger.