Hamilton to be torn between loyalty to Mercedes and novelty at Ferrari - GulfToday

Hamilton to be torn between loyalty to Mercedes and novelty at Ferrari

Hamilton to be torn between loyalty to Mercedes and novelty at Ferrari

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates with the trophy after winning the season’s final F1 race in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Reuters

Lewis Hamilton has admitted he will be torn between loyalty to Mercedes and the novelty of a new challenge at Ferrari when he considers his options for what is expected to be his last racing driver’s contract in Formula One.

The 34-year-old Briton had little time to bask in the glory of his stunning dominance of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix before being pressed to talk about his future and a possible switch from the Silver Arrows to Ferrari.

The six-time world champion was circumspect, however, in his answers during post-race interviews in which he declined offers to deny that he had already spoken to the Italian team’s chairman, John Elkann.

Hamilton’s current contract with Mercedes ends next year, leaving him free to move for the 2021 season when Formula One ushers in a radical new set of rules that may coincide with Sebastian Vettel choosing to leave Ferrari, possibly for Mercedes in a dramatic swap with Hamilton, or to retire.

Hamilton, owner of two high-performance Ferrari road cars, made clear that he is simply looking around to weigh up his options beyond next year when he may equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven drivers’ championship titles.

He also made clear that he is in no rush to make any decisions, a position applauded by his current team chief Toto Wolff who may also be considering his future when the sport shifts into a new era.

Wolff said he felt there was a 75 percent likelihood that Hamilton would stay and sign a new contract, likely to be his last as an F1 driver, with Mercedes - but he said also that there was a clear 25 percent chance that he may move.

“Naturally, everything that happens behind closed doors is always private with whoever you end up sitting with,” explained Hamilton after winning his 11th race this year, his fifth at the Yas Marina circuit and the 88th of his career.

“For many years, I have never sat down to consider other options because we have been driving straight ahead on the path we have been on. We are still on that path and there is very little that is going to shift that.

“I love where I am so it is definitely not a quick decision to do something else, but it is only smart and wise for me to sit and think of what I want if it is the last stage of my career.

“I want to keep winning. I cannot tell you what is going to happen moving forward. I love where I am so it is definitely not a quick decision to do something else.”

Italian news media reported last weekend that Hamilton had held two meetings with Elkann this year - discussions that Wolff appeared to know of when he was asked about his and the Englishman’s futures.

“I hope that our relationship continues, but, equally, there is a 25 percent chance we are not in control of,” said the 47-year-old Austrian, tipped as a potential overall boss of Formula One if he can be tempted to leave Mercedes.

“We will see how the next months pan out... A sports team is not static. It is dynamic. That means there is always going to be change -- and change can provide opportunity. If one important member of the team breaks out, that provides risk, but also an opportunity....”

Meanwhile, Vettel, who was beaten by his team-mate Charles Leclerc, when asked by reporters about his future plans, said, “Holiday.... I think I was already doing a holiday next year as I heard before that I am stopping... I don’t know who started the rumour, it seems they know more than me.

“But, since you journalists are always right, it will hit me probably in the next weeks.”

Agence France-Presse

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Team Emirates’ Pogacar claims podium finish

A monumental final push in the UAE heat from Tadej Pogacar wasn’t enough to take the win in the third stage of the team’s home country as Adam Yates...

The 184km Emirates Stage finished with an exhausting 10.8km climb as Yates launched a surprisingly early attack with 6km to go. Pogacar didn’t react to Yates’ initial acceleration but then ripped clear of the chasing group with 5km remaining, finishing second in the stage, claiming the young rider’s jersey and ending the day second in the GC in a successful day for the team.

Pogacar said “It was extremely hot today, so for me on a climb like that in those temperatures it was a really good ride and I’m pleased.

“There is still three stages with another big mountain stage and the chance of crosswinds tomorrow so it’s not over yet. We have a strong team here so will try something for sure.”

Pogacar will get another chance to claim back the one minute GC deficit as the fifth stage of the Tour finishes at the same Jebel Hafeet summit.

Pogacar will wear the white young rider’s jersey in Wednesday’s stage as the race sees the riders return to the flats which will come as welcome relief for the sprinters.

The Emirates NBD Stage starts from Zabeel Park, crosses Mushrif Park and Motor City before finishing at Dubai City Walk where the popular walkway has been transformed as part of the racing route.

British climber Yates pulverised the opposition on the tough, final ascent of stage, winning by over a minute and taking the overall race lead.

His compatriot Chris Froome was dropped early in the race.

The four-time Tour de France winner again struggled on his comeback from injuries sustained last May.

The 27-year-old Yates is also making his 2020 debut and looks favourite to win in a competitive field after his stunning attack from 6km out at the end of a warm day with temperatures passing 30C.

“I attacked maybe a little too early, but in the end I felt good,” said Yates, whose win gives him a 1min 07sec lead in the overall.

“A minute is a lot, but we have to do this climb again, and maybe my legs won’t be so good then,” Yates said in reference to stage five.

“Also tomorrow I heard a rumour there are going to be crosswinds, so we’ll see.”

Yates was followed up the final 10.6km Jebell Hafeet climb at a 7 per cent gradient by a trio of challengers with Slovenian prodigy Pogacar finishing 1min 03sec adrift.

Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko was third at 1min 30sec accompanied by up-and-coming Frenchman David Gaudu.

Yates came fourth at the 2016 Tour de France and is targeting the Grand Boucle this summer where he will lead the Australian team ahead of his brother Simon.

Wednesday’s flat stage, the fourth of seven, is a 173km run to Dubai City Walk where a mass bunch sprint is expected.

Stage 3 Results

1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 4h42’34”

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:03

3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:30

General Classification Results

1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 12h30’02”

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:07

3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:35

22 hours ago