Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton struggling to reach new deal?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) /

Lewis Hamilton is reportedly struggling to agree to terms with Mercedes on a new Formula 1 contract as the sport’s lone remaining driver without a ride for 2021.

Entering 2021, all but one of the 20 seats on the upcoming Formula 1 season’s grid have been solidified.

The one seat without a confirmed driver is the seat at Mercedes alongside Valtteri Bottas, which has been occupied by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton since he made the switch from McLaren after the 2012 season.

All throughout the 2020 season, Hamilton and the team maintained that it was simply a matter of time before a deal was done to keep the soon-to-be 36-year-old Briton in that seat for what would be a ninth season in 2021.

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That remained the case even when the team signed Bottas to a fifth consecutive one-year deal in early August.

Bottas became Hamilton’s teammate in 2017 following the unexpected retirement of 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg. Since joining the team, he has won nine races.

Meanwhile, Hamilton has won at least nine races each season for a total of 42, and he has won each of the last four world championships.

Yet a deal for Hamilton for 2021 still isn’t done. Is this a reason for concern?

After signing a deal to stay on as team principal through the 2023 season and to become a one-third shareholder of the Silver Arrows, Toto Wolff said that Hamilton may very well not have a deal done prior to the night before preseason testing commences at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in March.

However, might that not even happen?

Daimler, one of the team’s other two one-third shareholders, reportedly rejected Hamilton’s demands of a four-year, $200 million deal.

According to Motorsport, that deal also included demands of 10% of the team’s winnings should they win the world championship, an upcoming limited-production AMG One car, and a role that “goes beyond being a driver and more than a mere testimonial”, likely a role in helping the team’s approach into electric transition.

Here is what Italian newspaper Il Corriere Dello Sport had to say about the matter, according to Marca.

"“In November, when Formula One went to Turkey, a contract that meets Hamilton’s requirements was ready: a four-year contract with a salary of 50 million a year. However, Daimler put an end to that.”"

With Ineos having become a one-third shareholder of the team as well, they will also have to approve of any new contract for Hamilton.

Such discussions are sure to spark further rumors about the future of Hamilton with Mercedes, especially considering George Russell’s performance in his lone start as the replacement for the seven-time world champion toward the end of the 2020 season in the Sakhir Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit after he tested positive for COVID-19.

As of now, Russell is set to return to Williams in 2021.

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Preseason testing is scheduled to last from Tuesday, March 2 to Thursday, May 4. The 2021 season is scheduled to begin on Sunday, March 21 with the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, although it is expected that this race will be postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and that the Bahrain Grand Prix will instead open up the season on Sunday, March 28 at Bahrain International Circuit.