Lewis Hamilton is keen for new contract talks with Mercedes to be wrapped up by Christmas after his positive Covid-19 test delayed proceedings.
The seven-time world champion secured his most recent title at the Turkish Grand Prix in November to equal Michael Schumacher’s record, while he broke the German’s record for most Grand Prix wins the race before his Istanbul success by notching up his 92nd race win in Portugal.
Six of those titles and 74 of those wins have come with Mercedes after his move there from McLaren in 2013 and Hamilton insisted he wanted to strike a deal very soon that would allow him to race for the Northamptonshire-based team.
‘Hopefully over the next couple of weeks,’ Hamilton said when asked about when a deal would be confirmed. ‘We would love to get it done before Christmas.
‘I plan to be here next year. I want to be here next year. We, as a team, have more to do together and more to achieve both in the sport but even more outside the sport.’
Mercedes have already put Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton down as their drivers for next year on the FIA entry list and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said talks between the team and Hamilton should be a formality and had only stopped because Hamilton had contracted the virus, which caused him to miss the second of back-to-back Bahrain Grands Prix earlier this month.
‘We will have this conversation,’ Wolff said. ‘We were delayed. We always said we would do it after the title was won, and then the virus delayed us for another 10 days, two weeks. Now we just have to sit down, maybe virtually, maybe live.’
The biggest potential sticking point in negotiations could be Hamilton’s pay, with the Briton currently making a whopping £35million a year and seeking a pay rise to £40m per year.
As the highest-earning driver in the sport, he therefore stands to be hardest hit if plans by the Formula One Commission (FAC) to introduce a salary cap come to fruition. That would mean every team’s two drivers would share a salary pot of £22m a year, and could come into effect as early as 2023.
Consequently, the 35-year-old may now feel under pressure to secure a long new contract now before the new restrictions come in. The FAC is responsible for approving any changes to F1’s sporting and technical regulations before these changes are then ratified by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council.
In response, Hamilton called on the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA), the equivalent of a drivers’ trade union, to work closely with the sport’s authorities to resolve the issue.