Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time Formula One champion, starts the year in a very unusual way: unemployed. His contract with Mercedes expires in late 2020, and a new deal is yet to be announced.
It is not that the 36-year-old driver’s place on the grid is threatened. The team changed shareholder control: Petrochemical company INEOS bought a third of the team, a piece that also belongs to the now-dominant Toto Wolfe, which renewed its contract for the next three years. The rest of the shares are with Mercedes, reducing its stake.
Hamilton, who turned 36 last Thursday (7), has always made it clear that he wanted to know the team’s scenario before starting a conversation, especially in relation to Wolfe, who said he was looking for a successor to his position in the medium term Were in Nevertheless, at least a year ago, rumors were published that the agreement had already been signed, with varying values and duration.
In January 2020, the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport revealed that the final details of the two-year extension were being finalized. In the United Kingdom, since late December, newspapers such as The Sun, Daily Mail and The Times have been publishing that the agreement is imminent, with values that range from US $ 55 million to over $ 60 million ($ R) . 292.4m over R $ 319m) and with extensions ranging from one to three years.
To complete the round of speculation, the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport published the previous days that Mercedes refused a four-year contract for $ 50 million per year (R $ 265.8 million) and then said “the most It is likely that INEOS will accept part of the millionaire salary “.
The same newspaper published in April that Hamilton wanted a “four or five-year” contract, and in January, the pilots were seeking US $ 67 million (R $ 356.2 million) per year.
However, given Hamilton and Wolff’s statements in recent months, the team’s need to resolve the situation was clear, as Mercedes is implementing a worldwide plan to reduce spending and did not know to what extent This will affect the financing of the F-1 project and its involvement of the automaker.
It was also clear that the talks could go even further – Wolff said the contract would have to be closed “before the pre-season trials scheduled for March”, and, in excess of the money, Hamilton is asking for the effect of his inclusion. And continuing to defend sustainability guidelines.
Soon after the announcement of INEOS, the pilot highlighted Mercedes’ commitment. “It’s great to see that they will be part of this team and help with the stability of the team to happen in the future. We will need a push so that we can make this organization something better.”
On the team’s side, Wolfe also praised Hamilton: “He’s at his peak and will be at his peak for a while. And so it’s a very easy decision to stick with.”
It is clear that Hamilton, who had spent the last few days in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, will be staying at Mercedes, and despite rumors, the value of his contract, which he said was possibly his last in F1, is very likely to be kept a secret. .