Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Abu Dhabi F1: Lewis Hamilton refuses to be drawn on Ferrari rumours

World champion refuses to confirm or deny claims that he met with chairman of the Italian team – but did insist he was happy at Mercedes

With the championship already decided prior to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, there's been plenty of talk about events off the track this weekend.

One of the main points of discussion – and, indeed, conjecture – has been about whether Lewis Hamilton will ultimately jump ship to Ferrari, even though, thusfar, the driver has expressed no apparent interest in leaving Mercedes or, indeed, moving across to the Italian team.

In an unusual set of circumstances, most of the top drivers will be out of contract next year, leading to what might be termed a bunfight, as both individuals and teams will be jockeying for favour. And, as world champion, Hamilton's decision to stay or go is a key topic of discussion in this area. Particularly after his barnstorming victory on Sunday.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport shone a spotlight on Hamilton's future by suggesting he'd met with Ferrari's chairman John Elkann twice this year.

Hamilton himself, however, refused to confirm or deny this after Sunday's race.

"Everything that happens behind closed doors is always private," the driver said. "I love where I am so it's definitely not a quick decision to go anywhere else."

Earlier, Hamilton seemed perplexed by the rumours. When he was told Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto had described him as an outstanding driver, the Englishman said: "Well, this is the first time I've heard of that. I think that’s the first compliment I’ve had from Ferrari in these 13 years."

When pressed on the subject, the Mercedes driver expressed further surprise, but seemed to appreciate the compliment paid to him.

"I think it’s never a waste of time to be nice to someone," he remarked with regard to Ferrari's apparently positive assessment of his abilities. "Ferrari is a team that I’ve always appreciated over the years, so to earn their respect from someone from there who’s obviously very high up is obviously not a bad thing."

Rather than reveal his thoughts on his own future, though, Hamilton seemed more keen on seeing Fernando Alonso return, after the Spanish driver hinted he'd be open to rejoining the F1 fray next year. "I’d be more just happy that I won’t be the oldest one here," Hamilton said.

The Australian Grand Prix is just over 100 days away, and a lot can happen in that time. Come 2021 though, it's a dead cert that, whatever Hamilton chooses to do, many of F1's most highly rated drivers will be wearing very different livery for the season than that which they sported today.

Updated: December 1, 2019 09:25 PM

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