Formula 1: Toto Wolff reveals new Lewis Hamilton information

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes Formula 1 (Photo by HAMAD I MOHAMMED/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes Formula 1 (Photo by HAMAD I MOHAMMED/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Toto Wolff expects Lewis Hamilton to re-sign with Mercedes for the 2021 Formula 1 season amid ongoing contract negotiations.

For weeks upon weeks, seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton has been without a contract to compete in the 2021 season, and as of Friday, January 1, he is no longer a member of Mercedes.

His seat has been the lone vacant seat in the 2021 lineup since mid-December, and there was reportedly a huge gap between his demands from the Silver Arrows and what they were willing to give him in a new deal.

The 36-year-old Briton reportedly asked for a four-year, $200 million deal that also included 10% of the team’s championship winnings, a limited production AMG One car and a role that “goes beyond being a driver and more than a mere testimonial”.

Mercedes reportedly weren’t willing to pay any driver more than $20 million per season, and a four-year deal was out of the question.

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But despite multiple sources reporting on how the two sides had barely any common ground, team principal Toto Wolff expects to have Hamilton back for a ninth consecutive season in 2021.

The team signed Valtteri Bottas to a one-year extension back in early August despite the fact that Hamilton has won all four championships as his teammate, but Wolff and Hamilton both remained optimistic about a new deal getting done as rumors began to heat up throughout the rest of the season.

Here is what he Wolff had to say about the prospects of Hamilton signing a new deal, according to Autosport.

"“The lawyers are working hard. We don’t make life easy for them, of course, when we both argue over Zoom and keep sending curveballs to the lawyers. But he’s in America now and I’m here. At some point we will finalize it. It’s how it is with negotiations. You always come from different corners, but that’s quite normal.“We have a really solid basis in our relationship. We have celebrated great successes together and want to continue doing so in the future. But sometimes you have to talk things out in detail, and that took or still takes us some time. But before Bahrain at the latest, you have to sign something at some point.”"

The deadline for Hamilton to sign a new deal with the team had been set for the end of February, just before the start of preseason testing.

But preseason testing has now been moved from Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to Bahrain International Circuit, and the dates have been pushed back from Tuesday, March 2 through Thursday, March 4 to Friday, March 12 through Sunday, March 14.

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The 2021 season is scheduled to get underway on Sunday, March 28 after the initial season opener, the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, was moved from Sunday, March 21 to Sunday, November 21 as a result of coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions. The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to open up the 23-race season at Bahrain International Circuit.