Formula 1: Toto Wolff reveals latest Lewis Hamilton hold-up

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

Toto Wolff revealed the latest hold-up in the contract negotiations between Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton for the 2021 Formula 1 season.

We are nearing the start of February, the final remaining full month of the offseason between the 2020 and 2021 Formula 1 seasons, and there are still only 19 drivers under contract for the upcoming season.

The 20th seat is, of course, the Mercedes seat alongside Valtteri Bottas, who signed a fifth consecutive one-year deal back in August.

Seven-time/four-time reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is still without a deal to compete in 2021, and he has not officially been a member of the team since his previous contract expired on Friday, January 1.

Multiple recent reports suggest that he and Mercedes are quite far apart when it comes to what they want from each other in a new deal. However, team principal Toto Wolff is still showing no concerns about the hold-up.

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Before the 2020 season was originally scheduled to get underway in mid-March, it appeared as though a new contract between Hamilton and Mercedes was only a formality, with Hamilton even criticizing those who suggested there was any sort of rift between the two.

The fact that there still hasn’t been a deal signed, however, has only further heated up the rumors that the 36-year-old Briton may not be back with the team for what would be a ninth consecutive season in 2021.

The two sides have said on multiple occasions, specifically after Bottas signed his new deal, that there simply hasn’t been time to get a deal done, but we are now almost halfway through the offseason.

So what’s the hold-up?

According to Wolff, part of it stems from him having not been “in action” recently after testing positive for COVID-19, something he hadn’t previously revealed publicly.

Here is what he had to say about the recent hold-up, according to Autosport.

"“We know we want to race together. And now we have to negotiate the contract. … We had planned to be here [at last weekend’s Kitzbuhel downhill ski race] for a few days. And out of nowhere I got a positive corona test. Now we’ve just been here for 10 days. But everything’s fine. No symptoms, thank God. It could have gone badly, but we’re out of quarantine.”"

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Bahrain International Circuit is scheduled to host both preseason testing and the 2021 season opener, the Bahrain Grand Prix. Preseason testing is scheduled to take place from Friday, March 12 to Sunday, March 14, and the season is scheduled to get underway on Sunday, March 28.