Formula 1: Another new Lewis Hamilton deal deadline emerges

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) /

Another new deadline for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to come to terms on a new Formula 1 contract has emerged, according to Toto Wolff.

Seven-time/four-time reigning Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is still not under contract to return to Mercedes for the 2021 season after his previous contract expired on Friday, January 1.

The Mercedes seat alongside Valtteri Bottas has been the lone open seat of the 20 seats on the upcoming season’s grid without a confirmed driver for several weeks, with contract negotiations between Hamilton and Mercedes heating up as of late, despite having previously been thought of as a mere formality.

Multiple reports have made note of a huge gap between what Hamilton wants from the Silver Arrows and what they are willing to give him in a new deal.

It does appear that Hamilton will sign a new deal, according to team principal Toto Wolff, but that is not official yet.

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In fact, it still may not be official for quite some time, as Wolff made note of a new deadline for when a deal needs to be done by. It had previously been revealed that the deadline for Hamilton and Mercedes to agree on a new contract was at the end of February.

However, that was when preseason testing was still scheduled to take place at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from Tuesday, March 2 to Thursday, March 4. Now preseason testing is scheduled to take place at Bahrain International Circuit from Friday, March 12 to Sunday, March 14, as the venue is now scheduled to host the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 28.

The original season opener, the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, was scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 21, but coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions caused that race, which was one of the many pandemic-related casualties on the 2020 schedule, to be pushed back to Sunday, November 21.

As long as a deal gets done before preseason testing, things will be good to go, according to Wolff. Here is what he had to say about the matter, according to Autosport.

"“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.”"

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Assuming Lewis Hamilton does sign a new deal, how many years will that contract be for? Will George Russell then move on from Williams to replace Valtteri Bottas after the 2021 season following his impressive relief appearance for Hamilton in early December?