Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton ‘grumpy’ entering 2021?

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

Even with a Mercedes one-year contract finally signed, is Lewis Hamilton unusually “grumpy” heading into the 2021 Formula 1 season?

After months of speculation and rumors, seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton finally put the pen to paper and signed a contract to continue his record-breaking career with Mercedes in the 23-race 2021 season.

The 2021 season is set to be the 36-year-old Briton’s ninth season with the Silver Arrows and 15th as a full-time driver in Formula 1.

He is set to enter the season with a record 95 victories to his name after breaking Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 last year, and he is coming off a seventh world championship, which tied Schumacher’s record. He has won four titles in a row and six of the last seven.

But despite all of that, the new deal he signed is only a one-year deal.

So is there reason for concern entering the 2021 season for Hamilton, specifically on the contract side of things for the future?

Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle recently spent time with Hamilton ahead of the 2021 season to do a couple of features which are slated to play throughout the year on Sky F1, and during that time, Brundle noted that Hamilton was unusually “grumpy” after signing his new deal.

Here is what he had to say about the matter during a Sky F1 testing preview.

"“We did a couple of features with him that we will play out through the year on Sky F1. He was very generous but a bit grumpy actually, I thought generally. It’s interesting that his right-hand man, Marc Hynes, is no longer working with him. I sensed he possibly wasn’t super-happy with the way the negotiations have worked out at Mercedes.”"

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Hamilton’s comments after signing the one-year deal were always a bit interesting, and Brundle’s comments will only add to that intrigue.

Despite the fact that there were multiple reports about his contract demands including a four-year deal worth $200 million plus 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”, Hamilton noted that it was his own decision to settle for just a one-year deal.

Yet that deal only ended up being signed last month, nearly two months after the 19th of 20 drivers had been confirmed on the upcoming season’s grid — and over six months after teammate Valtteri Bottas agreed to a fifth straight one-year deal with the team.

Hamilton contract talks for 2021 had begun several months before the start of the 2020 season, and yet it took nearly a full year for Hamilton to end up in the exact same situation again where he is set to enter another season as a pending free agent.

Many pundits believe that Hamilton’s new deal was really kind of like a “band-aid”, as both sides wanted to get something done but simply ran out of time and needed to put the pen to paper as soon as possible, leaving future seasons up for future and perhaps even more intense negotiations.

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So perhaps this “grumpiness” is reflective of the fact that he really didn’t get everything he wanted to get out of his new agreement with the team.

Or maybe everything is just fine.

Either way, expect to find out within the next few months as contract talks for the 2022 season ramp up, something that already seems to be starting with Mercedes junior driver George Russell lurking at Williams after having had an impressive Mercedes debut in Hamilton’s place during last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit following Hamilton’s positive test for COVID-19.

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The 2021 season is scheduled to get underway in just over two weeks on Sunday, March 28 with the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit, which is where preseason testing is scheduled to take place from Friday, March 12 through Sunday, March 14.