Hamilton signs one-year contract with Mercedes
The wait is over. Finally, after months of negotiations, Lewis Hamilton has put pen to paper and agreed a new single-year contract to stay at Mercedes as he aims for a record eighth World Championship.
For a ninth consecutive season, Hamilton, 36, will remain at Mercedes where he has achieved huge success by winning six Driver’s title to bring him level with Michael Schumacher’s record of seven at the end of 2020. Before, Hamilton had claimed only one title with McLaren in 2008 before moving to Mercedes in 2013.
The new deal, which only lasts until the end of this year, involves a commitment from Mercedes to continue to work with Hamilton on seeking "greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport".
Hamilton became the sport’s most successful driver last year by breaking the all-time win record also set by Schumacher. For his efforts and amount of success in the sport, Hamilton was knighted in the 2021 New Year’s Honours and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Hamilton’s new contract means that all the teams on the grid now have confirmed their 2021 driver line-up with the start of the new season set to take place on the 28th of March in Bahrain.
Why only one year?
Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff, revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic had made it tougher to meet face-to-face which delayed contract proceedings. Despite this, Mercedes and Hamilton always insisted it was a matter of when, not if, when a contract would be agreed.
The pandemic has had a huge effect and this contributed to negotiations between Hamilton and Mercedes. The new budget cap, which starts this year, and the new technical rules for 2022, aimed at reducing the deficit between the best and worst teams, were also big factors in the contract - not to mention Mercedes’ own drive to invest in electrification and impact on the team’s revenue caused by the global situation.
This new one-year deal will only last till the end of this year with both Hamilton and Mercedes wanting to re-evaluate their own situations before they committed to a longer contract.
Wolff also heavily dismissed the claims that the Brit had asked for a veto on his future team-mate or for a share of team revenue.
Overall, this is a smart move by Mercedes, who no-doubt value Hamilton, but are also looking into the future with protégé George Russell, impressing as Hamilton’s stand-in for when the Brit tested positive with COVID-19 at the penultimate race last year, eyeing the Williams driver for a potential promotion to the Silver Arrows.
No comments have been made to Hamilton’s future beyond 2021 but the Motorsport world will be revving with excitement as one of the best drivers to have driven in the sport will be continuing for another season.
Commenting on Hamilton’s future, Wolff said: "As long as he enjoys racing, I think he is very capable of going longer.”