Haas team boss Guenther Steiner has claimed that no other top Formula 1 side outside of Mercedes will be interested in hiring Lewis Hamilton beyond 2023.
Upon the switch to 1.6-litre V6 turbo-hybrid engines in 2014 Mercedes embarked on a record-breaking streak of winning eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships and seven Drivers’ titles – six of which went to Hamilton to add to his 2008 success.
But a huge reset to the technical regulations last year spelt the end of Mercedes’ dominant run as the Silver Arrows claimed only a solitary win and finished 244 points behind Red Bull.
Steiner admits he’s been perplexed that Hamilton and Mercedes have been unable to accept their plight from the top, arguing it’s just the way sport goes.
“Your team cannot always just win,” he told the Daily Mail. “It’s human. It’s a competition. Formula One is not Formula Mercedes! Mercedes had eight good years and nothing is forever, as we all know.
“Being surprised or not accepting that you go backwards is something I find very strange.
“You need to regroup and try again. But you cannot expect or demand to be [the best] … because we won it eight times now we are going to win it nine times. No.
“And the same for Lewis. You spent eight years in the best or one of the best cars and you won championships. You cannot always win, and also you lost the championship once to your team-mate as well in that time. Never forget that one. Your team cannot always win.”
Having struggled all year to get on top of a hugely troublesome package, Mercedes finally made a breakthrough with its capricious W14 car at the penultimate round in Brazil by delivering a 1-2 finish.
George Russell’s maiden F1 victory handed the team encouragement that its aggressively different zero sidepod interpretation of the regulations had the potential to be a winning one in this era.
However, any hopes of contesting for titles in 2023 were immediately dashed in Bahrain by the two Mercedes’ qualifying fifth and seventh, leading team boss Toto Wolff to declare that a change in direction on car philosophy was required.
Mercedes’ continuing issues have seen speculation arise over Hamilton’s future remaining with the Brackley team, with the Brit’s current deal expiring at the end of this year.
However, Steiner believes Red Bull – the current benchmark outfit – would not be interested in Hamilton when it already has Max Verstappen in one of its two cars.
“Where could he go? Honestly, I don’t know,” the Italian added.
“Red Bull have put everything on Max. Max is their man. Why would they now change Max for Lewis?”
While Hamilton and Verstappen in the same team would certainly represent enthralling viewing for spectators, Steiner concedes that partnering such an explosive duo together wouldn’t make sense from a sporting perspective for Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
“When you are the principal or when you’re running a team, you don’t want to entertain you guys,” he continued. “You want to entertain yourself of being World Champion.
“I’m not doubting Lewis’ capability but I just say, I don’t see it because the people which have the other top three cars are not looking at Lewis.”