Former F1 driver turned broadcaster Martin Brundle has branded talk of Lewis Hamilton leaving Mercedes as "silly".
With Mercedes failing to hit the ground running at the start of the new regulation cycle, the reigning Constructors' World Champions presently appear to have, at best, the third quickest car on the grid.
It's set off speculation that seven-time World Champion Hamilton could leave Mercedes when his current contract expires at the end of 2023, or even try to find a way of leaving the team at the end of 2022.
Mika Hakkinen was one of the most high-profile voices to speculate on the possibility, with the double World Champion saying: "Now that things are not going well, he'll start thinking of switching teams."
Brundle: It's too early to discuss Hamilton quitting
But Brundle doesn't agree with the thoughts of his former McLaren teammate, with the now Sky Sports F1 commentator addressing the possibility in his column for the UK broadcaster.
"Could Hamilton leave for another team? He has a contract for next season, although of course, you don't know what exit clauses there are for team and driver, performance clauses," Brundle said.
"The absolute bottom line is - and I'm not talking about Lewis here - if a team and driver don't want to work together again or a driver wants to stop, that circum-navigates any contractual clauses.
"What a team won't want a driver to do is say, 'I'm stopping', then the following week turn up for someone else.
"But I think it's too early to talk about Lewis leaving. It's only a few months ago that we were wondering whether the Brazilian GP weekend was Lewis' greatest-ever drive. And to get into the top-10 of his great victories is a strong achievement!"
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Brundle: Questioning Hamilton's abilities is "silly talk"
Hamilton's recent struggles, particularly against new teammate George Russell, resulted in Red Bull's Helmut Marko cheekily suggesting that the Mercedes driver should have retired at the end of 2021, prompting an apparent response from Hamilton.
Hamilton took to Instagram to post a picture of himself in Mercedes' tyre storage, with the caption: "It's my masterpiece and I'll decide when it's finished".
His move to address the situation won Brundle's approval, who said it just showed how silly talk of him being past his best really is.
"I loved his line - 'It's my masterpiece and I'll decide when it's finished' - I thought it was genius," Brundle said.
"I think that summed it up perfectly. We can't go from the revelation of Brazil to, 'He's a busted flush, he should stop'. That's just silly talk.
"He is at the far end of his career, he's not going to have the gung-ho approach like George, who has everything in front of him still. Lewis has been there, done it, won it.
"Maybe if he thinks he's got a couple of years with the hard slog of an uncompetitive car, that could be a trigger for his masterpiece being finished.
"But I do think it's way too early for that. He'll be eagerly awaiting new parts and seeing what's what."
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