Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc add fuel to 2024 swap rumours

Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc both did little in Azerbaijan to put to bed rumours of them switching seats in 2024.

Mercedes has implemented a reshuffle at its home base before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with James Allison returning as the team’s technical director and Mike Elliott stepping in as chief technical officer.

This change follows criticism from Lewis Hamilton regarding the W14’s design and Mercedes’ development approach at the beginning of the season.

Hamilton had publicly criticised the car’s design after a disappointing performance in Bahrain, expressing his feeling of not being heard by the engineers. Both Hamilton and teammate George Russell have welcomed the new changes.

Former F1 world champion Damon Hill has suggested that Mercedes might be making these changes to retain Hamilton, the seven-time world champion, after the current season.

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Hamilton’s contract is set to expire at the end of the 2023 season, and although he has expressed a desire to stay with the team, there has been no progress in negotiating an extension.

Hill commented on the situation, saying that Mercedes was not the dominant car it once was and that Hamilton’s vocal criticism was merely echoing what everyone else was thinking.

Hill believes that team principal Toto Wolff will address the issues and make necessary changes. The reshuffling of roles, with Allison returning and Elliott overseeing the entire group, might be an indication to Hamilton that Mercedes is committed to improving their competitiveness.

However, it remains uncertain whether these changes will convince Hamilton to stay with the Silver Arrows, the team responsible for six of his Drivers’ Championships.

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In the midst of ongoing contract negotiations, rumours have linked Hamilton to a potential move to Ferrari, possibly involving a driver swap with Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc has expressed frustration with the Italian team, and some believe Hamilton should join Ferrari to complete his distinguished career.

Both drivers did little to quell speculation during the first sprint weekend in Baku. Leclerc claimed there were no discussions “at the moment,” while Hamilton acknowledged that it was natural for Wolff to explore other options.