Damon Hill thinks Lewis Hamilton exit ‘could happen’ amid ‘pressure’

Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of new season

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Damon Hill feels Lewis Hamilton leaving Mercedes is “on the table” and talk of his exit will pile the pressure on Toto Wolff and co. Hill’s verdict comes after team principal Toto Wolff suggested Hamilton could walk away from the Silver Arrows to secure an eighth title.

He suggested the 38-year-old was unlikely to leave any time soon but could have his head turned in a year or two. Reacting to the verdict, Hill told Sky Sports F1: “I think Toto’s always been very upfront hasn’t he. He is not going to avoid the thoughts that we all have.

“Obviously it’s on the table but is Lewis really saying ‘I’m unhappy with the team I’m looking elsewhere’. He’s not saying that at all. What he’s saying is ‘I’m unhappy with where we are and I want Mercedes to deliver me the car to give me that eighth title’. So down Toto, so does Mercedes.

“That’s what he’s really saying. It’s going to create pressure, this public discussion. But then everything is public in this sport, nothing gets missed.”

Lewis Hamilton will look to quit Mercedes as Toto Wolff sets deadline[]

Speculation around Hamilton’s future has soared since Bahrain as the German manufacturer struggles to match Red Bull for another campaign. The British star is also yet to sign a new multi-year extension to keep him at Mercedes beyond the current 2023 season.

Wolff had claimed this would be done over the winter but has since accepted they had only sat down for first talks. It led Hill and Jenson Button to suggest Hamilton was waiting to see how quick the new W14 was before agreeing to new terms.

Speaking on Friday, Wolff stressed he and Hamilton had “formed a great bond” and had “no reason to doubt each other” during the difficult spell.

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However, admitted it could be tough to retain their prized asset forever if they could not challenge Max Verstappen.

He commented: “As a driver, nevertheless, if he wants to win another World Championship, he needs to make sure he has the car. If we cannot demonstrate that we are able to give him a car in the next couple of years then he needs to look everywhere.”

Ahead of the race weekend, Hamilton hit out at Mercedes chiefs for not listening to him over the direction of the W14. However, Hamilton still defended his mechanics on Thursday as he pledged he would stay loyal to the squad.

He remarked: “I still have 100 per cent belief in this team, it is my family and I’ve been here a long time, so I don’t plan on going anywhere else.

“But we all need a kick, we all need to get on – the proof is in the pudding, we’ve seen where the performance is and how people are extracting the performance, and we’ve got to now start making some bold decisions.”

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