Lewis Hamilton appears set to sign a new Mercedes contract, despite months of speculation. And F1 icon Bernie Ecclestone has now waded in, expressing a belief the Silver Arrows should have told the Brit he’s ‘replaceable’. Hamilton has been with the team ever since leaving McLaren in 2013.
Recent reports have suggested a new Hamilton contract is imminent.
The Brit has been locked in talks with Mercedes for several months, with the Silver Arrows determined to keep hold of their star driver.
And, now, Ecclestone has given his verdict by expressing a belief the Silver Arrows should have told the 36-year-old’s he’s replaceable.
“I would have made it quite clear to Lewis – either you take what we offer you now or you leave it. Everyone is replaceable,” he told F1-Insider.com.
“Only one person decides who drives here and that’s me.
THINK YOU KNOW SPORT? Test your sporting knowledge with our tricky quiz
“In 1983 we [Brabham] became World Champion with Nelson Piquet.
“I had to decide who would drive alongside him in 1984. We had an extremely good test with a young Brazilian driver called Ayrton Senna. I wanted him.
“When Nelson heard about it, he really got upset and reacted like a defiant child.
“He absolutely did not want Senna as a team-mate. He immediately recognised his potential. But I didn’t care.”
It’s been claimed that Hamilton wants a say over his Mercedes partner going forward.
But Ecclestone has revealed Michael Schumacher never adopted such a stance during his prime years with Ferrari.
“Michael didn’t even need a contract clause for that,” he said.
“He was the clear No 1, with him Ferrari wanted to return to the glory days.
“That’s why Jean Todt always asked him in advance whom he would like as a team-mate.
“Michael could live well with Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa. If Michael had objected, they wouldn’t have ended up at Ferrari.”
Meanwhile, Ross Brawn recently had his say on Hamilton’s situation and expressed a belief the Brit was too vital for Mercedes to lose.
“It’s up to Mercedes and Lewis to find their solution, but it would be a great shame for Lewis (to stop),” Brawn said.
“I don’t imagine for a moment that it’s going to happen.
“I think Lewis loves the sport too much, Mercedes like Lewis too much. There’s a bit of jousting going on, clearly, between Toto and Lewis, and that’s all part of the entertainment!
“But we want Lewis to continue. He’s a huge figure in the sport.
“He’s made people think – particularly this past year – on a number of issues which are associated with the sport but are perhaps not the focus of what we normally do, but things that are very important and have made people think and consider their approaches and attitudes.
“That’s been invaluable.
“He is an influential character, he’s good for our sport and probably one of the few megastars that we have in Formula 1 today.
“So for all sorts of reasons we want him to continue and I want him to continue.
“He’s got a record to break as well and I think driving for Mercedes is his best chance of doing it.”