Despite Lewis Hamilton currently being out of contract with the Mercedes F1 Team, both sides have said it is almost certain they will still be racing together this year. Recently, reports suggested that their contract extension negotiations were faltering due to Hamilton demanding a pay rise which Daimler, in particular, wasn’t willing to meet.
Mercedes later slammed these reports as “pure fiction”, but more recently, it has been reported that this isn’t the only thing holding up a new Hamilton-Mercedes deal. Specifically, the De Telegraaf newspaper has cited a source as saying that “the negotiations between the two parties are anything but smooth.”
It added that Mercedes is only willing to offer the seven-time World Champion a one-year extension, while he is insistent on securing a fresh multi-year deal.
If true, this would suggest that Mercedes want to keep their options open for 2022, so they could potentially sign George Russell as a low-cost replacement for Hamilton.
Last month, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he believes a new deal with Lewis Hamilton will be agreed “sooner or later”, adding that it could take until pre-season testing in March for a contract extension to be finalised.
“He [Hamilton] is on the top of his game and he will be for a while. And that’s why continuing together is a no-brainer,” Wolff said.
“If you refer to why haven’t we got a signed contract? The reason is simple. We always prioritised getting this Championship done, and not being distracted by sometimes difficult discussions, as is the nature of negotiation. But then COVID struck.
“So it has delayed us a little bit, but we are not worried in eventually getting it done.
“We are putting no special date to it, because we don’t want to be put under pressure from you guys [the media] while it’s not signed yet. So sooner or later, it needs to be done. At the latest before we go testing,” Wolff specified.