Lewis Hamilton is officially unemployed at the moment. The seven-time world champion’s contract with Mercedes expired on 1st January and a renewal has still not been signed. In the background, a lot seems to be happening at the moment.
Toto Wolff has been arguing for months that the extension of Hamilton’s contract should not be a problem, but the Italian branch of Motorsport.com know otherwise on Sunday. According to the reliable medium, the British driver’s salary requirements are too high for its parent company Daimler.
Hamilton could earn 40 million a year, on top of which there would be a 10% bonus for winning the world championship. Reportedly, the 35-year-old driver has rejected that offer. We do not know what Hamilton’s counter-proposal was.
Wolff would be prepared to wait for Lewis’ decision until the winter tests in Barcelona. However, Ola Kallenius, Chairman of Daimler, is not of the same opinion and is putting pressure on Wolff to close the deal as soon as possible. The Swedish top man also thinks it is fine to promote Russell and would threaten to do so. Taking the young driver away from Williams is no problem, as Russell is still a Mercedes junior.
The problem seems to be that Hamilton’s attitude cannot count on the approval of Daimler’s board of directors. Mercedes’ parent company has given Wolff a full mandate to close the deal as soon as possible, but the Austrian team boss has been given a list of conditions and restrictions.
Mercedes, too, is suffering from the coronavirus crisis. The German brand has therefore announced heavy cuts and it would therefore be illogical to reward Hamilton for a hefty salary increase.