Lewis Hamilton may well get what he wants after months of negotiations over a new contract, according to reports. The British racing superstar was recently knighted after securing a record-equalling seventh F1 world championship.
The 35-year-old was once again by far and away the best driver on the grid last season he has blown past his rivals. But amazingly he’s the only driver on the grid not signed up for next season with just a matter of weeks before teams begin unveiling their new-look liveries.
Drivers are usually pulled out for photo opportunities with their new cars with last year’s Mercedes W11 being unveiled mid-February. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has remained calm about Hamilton’s contract situation despite no deal being signed as of yet. However, he did set a deadline for an agreement to be made before pre-season testing begins in March.
“We are not worried about eventually getting it done,” he said last month.
“We are not putting a special date to it because we don’t want to be under pressure.
“Sooner or later it needs to be done and at the latest before we go testing [ahead of the 2021 season].”
Part of the hold up in a new contract being signed is reportedly due to Hamilton’s demands.
Corriere dello Sport claim the British racing driver wants his pay to stay the same in his new deal, although Mercedes are looking to make some cutbacks due to the financial repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hamilton is the highest paid driver in F1 history, with his previous contract seeing him earn close to £40million-a-year. But Mercedes may have found a way to give Hamilton what he wants without hurting themselves financially in the process.
There has been a huge shake up behind the scenes with INEOS becoming a one-third shareholder in Mercedes with Daimler and Wolff sharing the remainder equally between them. And Corriere report that Ineos may well take on a large chunk of Hamilton’s contract to ensure he stays in F1.
Hamilton leaving Mercedes before the start of the 2021 season could prove disastrous both for the defending constructors’ champions and the sport as a whole. But Hamilton has stated on numerous occasions in recent months that he plans to continue driving in F1, suggesting an agreement isn’t far away from being announced.