Lewis Hamilton '˜part of the team' as he gets set to stay with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton's boss Toto Wolff believes the British driver will end his Formula 1 career with Mercedes.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain signs autographs in Monaco. Picture: AP/Claude Paris
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain signs autographs in Monaco. Picture: AP/Claude Paris

Hamilton heads into tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix six points adrift of title rival Sebastian Vettel in his bid to become the first Briton to win four championships.

The 32-year-old is in his fifth campaign with Mercedes – a relationship which has yielded an incredible 34 victories and two championships but one that has not passed without controversy.

Wolff, however, is hopeful that Hamilton, who is in the second of a three-season deal, will see out his time in the sport with the Silver Arrows.

“If you would have asked me the same question one year ago, I would not have been very optimistic, but now it is different,” said Wolff. “I have the feeling that it can’t be much better in a different place. For him and for us.

“This bond is very strong now, and I am not speaking only about on-track performance because there are going to be difficult moments, but I am speaking about the relationship.

“After five years, this relationship has become so strong in a way that it wasn’t last season. For Lewis it will be important to see whether we are competitive or not, but at the moment there is such a solid basis that I can imagine it going on forever.”

While Hamilton has enjoyed great success in his time at Mercedes, his fractious relationship with former team-mate Nico Rosberg had a detrimental effect within the team which has dominated the sport in recent seasons.

Indeed, Hamilton’s disregard of team orders at the concluding race of the season in Abu Dhabi – a race in which Rosberg ultimately clinched the title – led Wolff to suggest he could take disciplinary action against the Briton.

But Rosberg’s sudden retirement and the arrival of Valtteri Bottas has led to a change in Hamilton’s mindset, according to Wolff. “I have known Lewis since 2013 and he has developed every year. As a racing driver he is almost faultless.

“Definitely the biggest positive development I have seen between 2013 and now happened over the winter and after Nico left. Drivers are sometimes viewed within teams as contractors and they will always look after their own agenda rather than the team’s interest, but Lewis is in his fifth year with us and that has changed. He has become a part of the team.

“I would not use the words ‘team player’ because that goes against the DNA of a racing driver, but I think he has realised, acknowledged and respects the whole effort that is happening in the team.”