Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton makes surprising contract admission

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

Lewis Hamilton made somewhat of a surprising admission regarding the length of his new Mercedes contract for the 2021 Formula 1 season.

After a lengthy negotiation period, seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and seven-time reigning constructor champions Mercedes finally agreed to a contract for the 2021 season last month.

The deal made Hamilton the 20th and final confirmed driver on the grid for the upcoming record-breaking 23-race season, and he was confirmed nearly two months after the 19th driver.

There were quite a lot of rumors surrounding the 36-year-old Briton’s future, or potentially a lack thereof, with the Silver Arrows, given the length of time it took for the two sides to agree on a new contract, and the fact that they only agreed to a one-year deal as opposed to a multi-year deal only further added fuel to the fire.

By comparison, Valtteri Bottas, who is set to compete for Mercedes on a fifth straight one-year deal this season, signed his extension all the way back in August.

But according to Hamilton, it was his decision to opt for just a one-year deal.

Here is what Hamilton had to say about the matter, according to Motorsport.

"“Firstly, I’m kind of in a fortunate position where I’ve achieved most of the stuff that I’ve wanted to achieve up to this point.“So there’s no real need necessarily to plan too far ahead in the future. I think we live in quite an unusual period of time in life, and I just wanted one year. Then we can talk about if we do more, and keep adding it if we have to.”"

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This, of course, contradicts the offseason reports that Hamilton was looking for a massive extension for four years worth $200 million. Such a deal was also said to include 10% of the team’s championship winnings and a limited production AMG One car.

Additionally, Hamilton’s statement about himself and the team pushing off talk about future seasons puts the two parties in the exact same situation again this season that they were in last season, leading many to believe that his contract for 2021 was simply a “band-aid” because they needed to put the pen to paper on something, even with the gap between what each side reportedly being so huge.

Again, a deal wasn’t confirmed until last month, despite talks having begun roughly a full year prior.

Many believe, even though team principal Toto Wolff denied the suggestion, that George Russell’s performance in the Sakhir Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit as Hamilton’s replacement after Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19 effectively capped Hamilton’s value, even as a 95-time race winner and thus the winningest driver in Formula 1 history.

Many believe that this gave Mercedes a leg up in contract negotiations, given Hamilton’s supposed asking price and the pure strength of the Mercedes car which the 23-year-old Russell was able to utilize fully to dominate Bottas in a cockpit that left him with bloody knuckles and other sore parts because he really didn’t even fit into it properly.

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So what does this all mean? Was it really Hamilton’s decision to only opt for a one-year contract with Mercedes for the 2021 Formula 1 season? If so, why did it take so long to come to an agreement? Hamilton’s lack of confirmation of wanting to be back in the sport in 2022 is also sure to raise eyebrows, especially given the mounting speculation about Russell. We’ll just have to keep waiting to see what’s next.