EDITORIAL: Hamilton/Ferrari, Vettel/Mercedes – Clickbait 101

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

By Adrian Mann of SilverArrows.Net

So today Ferrari announced that Sebastian Vettel would not be staying with the team post-2020 and the F1 media went into a frenzy. There’s nothing strange about that and there’s nothing strange about the flurry of ‘Hamilton to Ferrari’ and ‘Vettel to Mercedes’ articles that will surely follow.

You see, if you put the name Lewis Hamilton in an article title, you will get more clicks. If you put the name Ferrari in an article title, you will get more clicks. If you combine those two names, well, you can imagine… Vettel and Mercedes to a lesser degree, but they are undoubtedly a close second. So, no matter how ludicrous the theories in those articles might be, the media will pump them out regularly. No amount of public denials will stop them, they will continue to publish them until the drivers in question retire or the teams withdraw from the championship.

Now, I’m not saying Hamilton going to Ferrari and Vettel going to Mercedes is impossible, but it is certainly not as likely as some make it out to be. One reason is that it makes little to no sense for Hamilton to abandon a winning formula and go into the unknown. Mercedes is the most well-oiled team in Formula 1 today and perhaps ever. Ferrari on the other hand is not. Hamilton seems to have found a home at Mercedes and the team absolutely revolves around him, and for good reason. The only fathomable scenario where Hamilton might choose to leave the safety of the three-pointed star is if there is a big financial hang-up. I firmly believe that if Mercedes can match Hamilton’s price, he will remain with the team until he retires and possibly even longer.

There’s also no reason for Mercedes to change the winning formula, they are now in the middle of the most successful driver/team partnership in the history of Formula 1. The success is unprecedented, as are the promotional opportunities. Vettel, on the other hand, would have every reason to join Mercedes, the best team on the grid, and by all accounts a less political place than Ferrari. Even if he was to partner Lewis, it would be the best opportunity in Formula 1 right now. And his fans know it too. While Hamilton’s fans mostly get greatly annoyed at the media constantly talking about their favorite driver joining the Scuderia, Vettel’s fans would most certainly be thrilled if he got an opportunity with Mercedes.

However, as I said these scenarios are highly unlikely, especially in Hamilton’s case. But even in the case of Vettel, it’s hard to imagine Mercedes would risk losing the good and productive atmosphere they currently have within the team by partnering Hamilton with another high-profile driver.

The media will of course continue to grasp at straws to get clicks. They will point to Wolff’s recent remarks that Vettel leaving Ferrari “cannot be ignored” by Mercedes, or to Hamilton’s supposed childhood dream to drive for the red team. But, the reality is there is no dream. Ferrari is this mythical entity, that everyone wants to go to, only to their fans and, dare I say, fanboys. Racing drivers have only one dream – to win. The place where that is most likely to happen is the place they want to be at. But that won’t stop the media from publishing clickbait articles until both legendary drivers retire.

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