Formula 1: Have Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes hit a roadblock?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by BRYN LENNON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by BRYN LENNON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Is it time for any sort of major concern regarding Lewis Hamilton’s lack of a contract with Mercedes for the 2021 Formula 1 season?

Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is still without a seat for the 2021 season after his Mercedes contract expired on Friday, January 1, which was two and a half weeks ago now.

He is officially no longer a member of the Brackley-based team, and contract negotiations are ongoing.

While the two sides have maintained that they both want to get a deal done, the 36-year-old Briton’s 2020 seat is the only one without a confirmed driver for the upcoming season.

There were recent reports that the two sides had not seen eye to eye regarding potential contract terms.

Hamilton reportedly rejected an offer Mercedes after the team rejected his offer of a four-year, $200 million deal, which would also pay 10% of the team’s championship winnings as well as a limited production AMG One car and a role that “goes beyond being a driver and more than a mere testimonial”.

There was reportedly a breakthrough just about two weeks ago, but there may be yet another roadblock.

Despite the fact that Ineos reportedly stepped up and said that they were willing to cover the portion of Hamilton’s salary which Mercedes were unwilling to pay, the two sides have yet to reach an agreement to keep the Briton with the Silver Arrows for the 2021, and there is supposedly still a big gap in terms of what they want.

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Ineos recently become a one-third shareholder of the team along with Daimler and team principal Toto Wolff.

The deadline for an agreement to be reached is reportedly at the end of February, which is just over a month away.

With a deal still not having been signed, former team boss Eddie Jordan believes that Mercedes have the high ground when it comes to these negotiations, which could make it difficult for Hamilton to get exactly what he wants from the team in any new deal he may sign.

Here is what Jordan had to say about the matter, according to F1 Insider.

"“Apparently, the parties disagree on the terms. I just heard that Lewis wants more than Mercedes is willing to pay. It’s also about sharing the team’s income and having an influential role in the Mercedes group. … If I were the boss of Daimler, I would show him the door: Either you drive on our terms or you go.”"

Jordan did not mince words when it came to what Mercedes should inform Hamilton if he does not lessen his demands for a new deal, citing what Bernie Ecclestone said after the death of the legendary Ayrton Senna.

"“I would tell him what Bernie Ecclestone said after Ayrton Senna’s death. Even if Bernie was shocked and sad like everyone else, he was the first to regain his composure and said to us: ‘Now stop whining: Everybody is replaceable’. Lewis should know that by now.”"

While it is a small sample size, we saw what Mercedes junior driver George Russell was able to do behind the wheel for Mercedes in his lone start for the team at Bahrain International Circuit in early December, dominating teammate Valtteri Bottas. Bottas has been Hamilton’s teammate since the 2017 season.

Certainly comparing Russell, the 22-year-old who just completed his second full season with Williams, to a seven-time champion in Hamilton is far too premature.

But with Mercedes’ championship-winning machinery at their disposal, Jordan makes a good point regarding replacing Hamilton: no man is bigger than the team, especially not when that team have won seven consecutive world titles, including five that have netted 1-2 finishes in the driver standings.

Bottas is already under contract through 2021.

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Will Hamilton be back with the seven-time reigning constructor champions for what would be a ninth consecutive season in 2021? If not, who will Mercedes sign as his replacement?