Lewis Hamilton contract: David Coulthard offers insight into how negotiations go down

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Lewis Hamilton’s contract saga is on the lips of every F1 fan as there remains an uncertainty over whether he will extend his stay with Mercedes. However, very little is known about what actually goes down behind closed doors. Former driver David Coulthard tells Express Sport how negotiations usually pan out.

Coulthard has a wealth of experience having spent 14 years as an F1 driver before moving into commentary and punditry, which he does for Channel 4.

That means the ex-Williams, McLaren and Red Bull star has had many contracts which have needed thrashing out.

But not everything is straightforward when a team principal wants his man to put pen to paper.

“There is lots of games that goes on,” Coulthard told Express Sport.

Although he has no inside scoop on how Hamilton’s talks are progressing, Coulthard gave suggestions on potential possibilities.

“As to why there isn’t an announcement regarding Lewis, it could be a number of reasons,” he added.

“It could be that Mercedes feel they have gotten all of the value they are going to get out of Lewis Hamilton.

“Lewis Hamilton breaking the Championship record this year, does that serve Lewis or does it serve Mercedes more?

“If it serves Lewis more being an eight-time world champion then there’s nothing really in it for Mercedes.

“If it serves Mercedes more then it doesn’t really bother Lewis because he still gets an eighth title.

“Business is business. Nobody just gives money away because somebody is nice or somebody is good at what they’re doing. There has to be an agreement on what the perceived value is.”

He continued: “Maybe Lewis wants more marketing rights to use his image with Mercedes, which I expect he is not able to now.

“He can use his own personal image, he is a Tommy Hilfiger ambassador, but he wouldn’t have the right to have a picture alongside a Lewis Hamilton vodka with a Formula One car behind him because those rights belong to the team. Maybe he is negotiating those.

“You could write an encyclopedia on what could be in a contract.”

From Coulthard’s experience, clauses always seem to be the biggest sticking points during contract talks.

“Basically, if you can imagine it, it can be in a contract,” Coulthard said.

“Some drivers have specific drivers, they have names saying they will not accept ‘him’ as a team-mate.

“An example of that could have been [Alain] Frost when he went to Williams, he could have stipulated that he would have any team-mate but not Ayrton [Senna] because their relationship had broken down at that point.

“Ayrton declared that would drive for Williams for free to try and destabilise Frost’s negotiations in 1993 before he eventually got a deal done with McLaren.”

Hamilton is yet to agree on terms for a 2021 contract with Mercedes and there has been rumours that his demands are stalling talks.

Or maybe the Silver Arrows are just playing us all along?

“This is unusual to have a situation where the lead driver is still in a situation where they have not officially announced the contract, that does not mean that they haven’t signed it of course,” Coulthard added.

“If it was signed then you would expect that to be announced. It could well be a media strategy, so let’s keep an open mind on that.

“Again, just because they may have signed somebody doesn’t mean they have got to put it out straight away.

“It could be a way of maintaining interest in Lewis and Mercedes if you put your media hat on, and that might not be a bad thing – I’m not saying it is, I’m just giving a potential.”

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