Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton’s mind-blowing contract demands

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) /

If the reports are to be believed, seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton’s contract demands from Mercedes are absolutely mind-blowing.

Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is officially a free agent, as his contract with Mercedes expired at the end of last week.

He does not have a deal to compete in the 2021 season, and the Mercedes seat alongside Valtteri Bottas is the only one of the 20 seats on the grid for the upcoming season without a confirmed driver.

Rumors about the 36-year-old Briton potentially leaving the team after the 2020 season heated up after Bottas signed a one-year extension all the way back in early August.

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This extension came despite the fact that he has only been responsible for nine of Mercedes’ 51 victories since becoming Hamilton’s teammate in 2017 as well as the fact that Hamilton has won every world championship since the duo formed four years ago.

While both Hamilton and the team blew off the rumors, chalking up the lack of a deal to poor timing, there have reportedly been recent contract negotiations that have amounted to nothing more than rejections from both sides.

The rejection from the team came due to Hamilton’s lofty contract demands.

He reportedly made four demands to the team in the hunt for a new deal. Here’s a list of those mind-blowing demands.

  • Four-year, $200 million salary ($50 million per year)
  • 10% of Mercedes’ winnings, should they win more championships
  • Limited-production AMG One car
  • A role that “goes beyond being a driver and more than a mere testimonial”

According to Forbes’ list of the highest-paid athletes in the world for 2020, Hamilton raked in $42 million via salary and winnings this past season, good for 13th place among all athletes.

$50 million, plus any mount of winnings, would move him into 11th, with the potential to jump into the top 10 depending on how much additional money he wins.

When you’ve won a Formula 1 record 95 races and a record-tying seven championships, including the last four and six of the last seven, you have every right to make these kinds of mind-blowing demands.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll be agreed to, and unfortunately for Hamilton, Daimler, one of the team’s three one-third shareholders, are not a fan of these demands and rejected the deal, with Hamilton also reportedly rejecting the deal that he was initially offered.

With the team’s other one-third shareholders, team principal Toto Wolff and Ineos, yet to have an official say on the matter amid reports of the latter being willing to cover much of his salary, we are set for a negotiation period that could significantly alter the next few seasons of the sport.

Whether or not Hamilton returns for what would be a ninth consecutive season with Mercedes next year remains to be seen, although if he does not return, there are no other open seats on the grid for him for the 2021 season, effectively making retirement likely.

Should a deal not be agreed to, Mercedes junior driver George Russell is lurking at Williams after replacing Hamilton and impressing the team in the Sakhir Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit late in the 2020 season following Hamilton’s positive test for COVID-19.

Many believe that it was Russell’s performance behind the wheel of the championship-winning W11 which ultimately capped Hamilton’s value ahead of this contract negotiation period.

Hamilton and the team reportedly have until the end of February to agree to an extension, with preseason testing scheduled to begin on Tuesday, March 2 and run through Thursday, March 4 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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The Australian Grand Prix is scheduled to open up the 2021 season on Sunday, March 21 at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, but it is believed that this race will be postponed due to coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions in Melbourne, Australia and thus Bahrain International Circuit will host the season opener, which would be the Bahrain Grand Prix, on Sunday, March 28.