MAY 14, 2016
Hamilton could take year off in 2017?
A wild rumour is being whispered in the Barcelona paddock about Lewis Hamilton's future in F1.
The rumour follows a poor run of reliability for the Briton's Mercedes, as his teammate Nico Rosberg lines up an eighth consecutive win in the Spanish grand prix.
"I am sure we will get through it and Lewis will get through it too," said technical boss Paddy Lowe, referring to Mercedes' recent problems.
Those reliability problems have stirred up conspiracy theories about Mercedes preferring that German Rosberg finally wins the title in 2016, with the team and even Hamilton denying there is any truth to it.
But in Barcelona on Friday, Hamilton repeated his line that he has "no idea" why Mercedes decided to swap engineers and mechanics between the two sides of the garage this year.
However, he insists: "The issues we've had are nothing to do with the mechanics. They've been doing a fantastic job both for Nico and I over the last three and a half years."
Another theory is that Hamilton's off-track lifestyle is finally beginning to catch up with him, or is a sign at least that his motivation for F1 is waning.
"Stories are emerging in Germany that Hamilton is mulling over a break from F1 at the end of the season," said London's Times newspaper from Barcelona.
The Daily Mail agreed: "One rumour in the paddock - and it is no more than that - is that Hamilton will take a year out at the end of this season."
One unnamed team principal thinks the British driver is losing focus.
"All of this stuff away from the races must be a distraction, and more of a distraction when you are losing and you need to raise your game.
"After three titles, maybe he doesn't want it as much anymore," the boss added.