Six times Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton did not deny meeting Ferrari chairman John Elkann when asked on Sunday about speculation linking the Mercedes driver with a move to the Italian team in 2021.
The 34-year-old Briton will be out of contract at the end of next season and next deal will probably be Hamilton´s last in Formula 1 and he has said he is considering options outside of Mercedes, where team principal Toto Wolff´s future is also up in the air.
“What happens behind closed doors is always private with whoever it is you end up sitting with,” Hamilton said in response to a question about Italian media reports that he had twice met Elkann.
“For many, many years I´ve never, ever sat down and considered other options because we´ve been just driving straight ahead into the path that we´ve been on…,” revealed the Briton after winning the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“I know Toto is also looking at his options in terms of his future. So I´m waiting to see what he´s doing with that,” he added.
Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013 as a one-time F1 World Champion, replacing seven times F1 titleholder Michael Schumacher, and with the team still battling in the midfield.
He now has six F1 world titles and 84 Grand Prix victories, only seven shy of Schumacher´s astounding all-time record of 91, and has averaged 10 wins a year since 2014.
He can equal the German´s record title tally next season and the lure of going beyond that in one of the Italian team´s red cars could be too great to resist.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto, whose four-time champion driver Sebastian Vettel is out of contract at the end of 2020, praised Hamilton on Friday and said he was happy the Italian team’s nemesis could be available.
Wolff said there was a 75% chance Hamilton would stay with Mercedes.
“But equally, there is a 25% chance that we are not in control of,” added the Austrian, who on Saturday said he was totally accepting of Hamilton speaking with Ferrari.
The Briton, who owns several Ferrari sportscars, admitted any decision to leave would not be easy, “I love where I am so it´s definitely not a quick decision to go do something else. But of course, it´s only smart and wise for me to sit and think of what I want if it is the last period or stage in my career.”