Lewis Hamilton wants his new contract with Mercedes ‘tied up by Christmas’ as he holds out for huge £40m-a-year deal and insists he has ‘more to achieve in and outside the sport’ after winning his seventh world title
- Talks between Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes stopped after he caught Covid-19
- Hamilton broke Michael Schumacher’s record for most F1 race wins in October
- The Briton has won six world titles and 74 races since joining Mercedes in 2013
- The 35-year-old is seeking a pay rise as the sport wants to bring in a salary cap
- If the cap comes in, Hamilton’s annual salary could fall significantly from 2023
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.
Lewis Hamilton became the F1 driver with the most race wins ever after his victory in Portugal
An emotional Hamilton after he equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles
‘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.
Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas (second from right) are due to race for Mercedes in 2021
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.
Hamilton is concerned that a new F1 salary cap ruling could mean a significant cut to his pay
Speaking in October before the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Hamilton admitted the proposal had been unexpected: ‘It was the first we heard of it this week. I didn’t know a cap was being discussed. From a driver’s point of view it is a surprise.
‘It is important that the GPDA work closely with Formula One on how we move forward.’