Formula 1: New deadline for Lewis Hamilton deal emerges

Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 (Photo by Hamad Mohammed - Pool/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 (Photo by Hamad Mohammed - Pool/Getty Images) /

Lewis Hamilton reportedly has until the end of next month to agree to a new deal with Mercedes for the 2021 Formula 1 season.

Nearly one month into the offseason between the 2020 and 2021 Formula 1 seasons, one of the 20 seats on the grid for the upcoming record-breaking 23-race campaign is still without a confirmed driver.

That happens to be the seat that has won the last four and six of the last seven world championships, as seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is currently a free agent and has yet to re-sign a deal with Mercedes to compete alongside Valtteri Bottas next year.

Throughout the 2020 season, Hamilton and the Silver Arrows blew off rumors about the soon-to-be 36-year-old Briton potentially not getting a deal done, noting that the timing simply wasn’t right and they still needed to sit down to hash out all of the details.

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That supposedly remained the case even when the team re-signed Bottas to a one-year extension in early August, despite the fact that Hamilton has won 42 races to Bottas’s nine during their four years as teammates together thus far.

Now there are new reports stating that Daimler, one of the team’s three one-third shareholders, rejected Hamilton’s demands for a four-year extension worth $200 million, plus 10% of the team’s championship winnings should they add to their world title total of seven.

Those demands also reportedly included a limited-production AMG One car and a role that “goes beyond being a driver and more than a mere testimonial”, which many believe translates to a role pertaining to the team’s approach into electric transition.

Hamilton also reportedly rejected an offer from Mercedes himself, and given the fact that his previous contract with the team officially expired at the end of last week, he is a free agent and is no longer officially a member of the team.

Daimler chairman Ola Kallenius wants the sport’s (and team’s) lone remaining open seat to be filled as early as possible, and a new deadline for a Hamilton deal has emerged.

Toto Wolff, the team principal and CEO who recently became a one-third shareholder of the team, had stated that Hamilton may not have a new contract until the night before preseason testing, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, March 2 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

While it is not a huge shift, that deadline has been moved to the end of February. Here is what Italian newspaper Il Corriere Dello Sport had to say about it, according to Marca.

"“The new deadline for the extension of the contract is now at the end of February, just before the start of the winter tests in Barcelona.”"

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Should a deal not get done, all eyes will be on Williams driver George Russell, the Mercedes junior who filled in for the COVID-19-positive Hamilton in the Sakhir Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit toward the end of the 2020 season and had an impressive run before a pit issue and ensuing flat tire cost him the win.