Hamilton’s personal timeline to catch Red Bull hints at contract delay

Lewis Hamilton’s timeline for catching Red Bull stars Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez could suggest why the seven-times world champion’s Mercedes contract talks have stalled. Hamilton believes it could take all year for the Silver Arrows to catch their rivals in the race for the world championship. 

There has been little news on Hamilton’s Formula One future despite his current deal with Mercedes expiring at the end of the year. But the Brit could be choosing to see how long it takes for his team to catch Red Bull before making a clear decision on his future. 

Hamilton has publicly expressed frustrations with the issues he has faced with Mercedes over the last year. Should he and team-mate George Russell catch Verstappen and Perez with Hamilton’s predicted timeframe, he could be more open to discussing a new contract. 

“It is going to take us the rest of the year to potentially close that gap,” Hamilton said ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. “If you look at the Red Bull, it is just going to continue to evolve most likely. 

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“Some cars do plateau in terms of performance. At some point it can’t just keep going. But maybe it can.

“They have a great team around them and I am sure they will continue to add downforce. We just have to make sure when we do make the change, hopefully the drop isn’t too far, and it is going to take us the rest of the year, for sure, to potentially close that gap.”

Hamilton and Russell have endured a tough start to the F1 season. Neither of the British stars have recorded a podium finish in the two races so far, although Russell came close to toppling third-place Fernando Alonso in Saudi Arabia. 

Opening up on Mercedes’ problems, Hamilton revealed he has the unique problem of sitting too close to the front wheels of his W14 vehicle. He insists it makes a difference to the car’s performance. 

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“I don’t know if people know, but we sit closer to the front wheels than all the other drivers. Our cockpit is too close to the front,” Hamilton said.

“What that does is it really changes the attitude of the car and how you perceive its movement. It makes it harder to predict compared to when you’re further back and sitting more centered. It is just something I have really struggled with.

“There is a part of me that is just hopeful we find the trick and are straight on to the right track that is not far away from the others.”

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