Lewis Hamilton contract update will leave fans sweating

Lewis Hamilton on difficult season for Mercedes in November

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has revealed the team will negotiate with Lewis Hamilton “as in previous years”, hinting a contract could be signed close to the start of the new season. That could leave fans waiting weeks more before they know how long the Briton is staying in Formula One.

Hamilton signed his last contract with the Silver Arrows at the start of February 2021, just weeks before pre-season testing. His last two contracts were even finalised during the season with his 2018 deal being signed in July.

Wolff’s comments also suggested the German marque would not be prepared to accept all of Hamilton’s demands as he fleshes out what will almost certainly be his last F1 deal. However, Wolff silenced claims that Hamilton was “begging” for a new contract after being beaten by rookie team-mate George Russell last season.

Wolff told Auto Motor Und Sport: “I don’t see it that way at all. I said very early on that Lewis will always have a seat with us. A decision is always discussed between us and Lewis would be the first to say if he’s not enjoying it anymore or thinks he has deficits.

“In this respect, we want to continue and we will certainly negotiate as in previous years. I don’t see any indication that we need to change anything.” The Austrian’s comments show talks may have finally begun between both sides after Hamilton raised fears that the process had stalled.

He told German magazine Bild that talks had yet to begin as both sides had been busy “on the road” during the season. But, reports from French magazine Sportune reported Hamilton was set to sign a two-year extension with a massive pay rise.

They published that the terms of the deal could be as high as £61.4million (€70m) per season. This would make him the highest-paid driver on the grid with reigning champion Max Verstappen earning just £48.4 ($60m) last season.

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The German marque quickly cooled the allegations, branding the figures as “wild”. They explained: “Obviously, the winter doesn’t stop the rumour mill, and it’s been entertaining to read speculation about contract discussions when they haven’t yet begun.

“The rumours seem to have started on a French blog, Sportune, with which we don’t have a relationship – and are pretty wild in terms of what they suggest.” Hamilton has openly stated he wanted to sign a multi-year deal to keep him in the team for at least two more years.

However, he has refused to put a timeline on his F1 exit, prompting suggestions the seven-time champion could be tempted to sign up for a longer stay. F1’s new regulations are introduced in 2026 which could be a tempting reason to hold on another year.

He previously commented: “I’m not putting a limit on it to be honest. I’m planning to do a multi-year deal with my team. I really, really don’t know what the next five years (hold). I think we’re still trying to work on that.”

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