Lewis Hamilton may be about to take an intriguing step into English football, with rumours he is involved in Jim Ratcliffe's bid to take ownership of Manchester United.
Hamilton, a seven-times Formula 1 world champion, is out of contract at Mercedes at the end of 2023. Rumours have begun circulating he may be looking past F1 for his next challenge.
Manchester United takeover: Lewis Hamilton rumoured to be involved
Jim Ratcliffe, one of the richest men in the United Kingdom, is the first to publicly announce his intention to bid for Manchester United. The deeply unpopular Glazer ownership is coming to an end at Old Trafford, with the American family looking to sell after persistent protests from fans of the club over the past few years.
Tuesday evening brought news of the first confirmed bidder for United, with Ratcliffe publicly entering the race to own one of English football's most successful clubs.
Ratcliffe's chemical company INEOS will lead the bid, and both INEOS and their CEO have a history of involvement with sports teams. They are owners of OGC Nice football club in Ligue 1, while they also hold a 33% ownership stake in Mercedes F1 team.
This is where Mercedes' lead driver Lewis Hamilton enters the fray.
Hamilton has driven for Mercedes since 2013, and INEOS have been one third owners of the team since 2020 - the season in which Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher's record of seven world drivers' championships.
Through working alongside INEOS at Mercedes, Hamilton and Ratcliffe have developed a friendship, and Hamilton was asked last year whether he would be interested in joining Ratcliffe's rumoured bid for Manchester United.
Hamilton was part of a team including Serena Williams which bid for Chelsea last year, before Todd Boehly's ultimate takeover at Stamford Bridge, and last year became a part owner of the Denver Broncos, so he has experience in these realms.
When asked about a prospective bid for Manchester United, Hamilton said:
Jim's part boss but partner - I'd say we're more partners because we're in this together and I hope in future to do something with Jim and build with him. I don't know where that will be or what that will be, so I can't really say.
I haven't had a call from him asking if I want to be involved in [Manchester United] just yet, but I do want to get more and more involved in teams because I really do believe in black ownership. There is a lack of it in sports, and black equity - again, there is a real lack of that.
Lewis Hamilton remains the only black driver in Formula One, and has strongly advocated for more to be done to give young black athletes the opportunity to break into the sport.
The rumours of his interest in Ratcliffe's bid for Manchester United have now resurfaced, after Ratcliffe made public his formal intention to bid for the club.
🚨 | Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to buy Manchester United pic.twitter.com/atCZhytWyT
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 17, 2023
Hamilton is out of contract at the end of the 2023 season at Mercedes, and Toto Wolff recently admitted that the two parties have not sat down yet to formally negotiate an extension to that deal.
Reports have emerged that a mega £60million per year contract has been tabled to Hamilton, much of which would be picked up by Ratcliffe's INEOS firm.
Mercedes and Manchester United also share a key sponsor in technology firm TeamViewer - though 2022-23 will be the final season of the company appearing on United's shirts.
It will be intriguing to see if Lewis Hamilton does indeed join with Ratcliffe's bid to take over Manchester United, and he certainly has precedent in this area - though it may earn him some more pointed jokes from his rivals.