Method 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has signed a brand new one-year contract with Mercedes for the 2021 season.
The 36-year-old’s earlier deal lapsed in 2020 however he’ll now race for Mercedes for a ninth season.
Hamilton grew to become the game’s most profitable driver ever in 2020, breaking Michael Schumacher’s all-time win file and drawing degree with the German’s seven titles.
“Our group has achieved unimaginable issues collectively,” mentioned Hamilton.
“We look ahead to constructing on our success even additional, whereas constantly seeking to enhance, each on and off the observe.”
A part of the brand new deal entails a dedication from Mercedes to proceed to work with Hamilton on in search of “higher variety and inclusion in motorsport”.
They’ll work on creating a brand new joint charitable basis and Hamilton says the producer has been “extraordinarily supportive” on the problem.
“I am proud to say we’re taking that effort additional this 12 months by launching a basis devoted to variety and inclusion within the sport,” he added.
“I’m impressed by all that we are able to construct collectively and might’t wait to get again on the observe in March.”
Why solely a 12 months?
Group boss Toto Wolff mentioned the length of the contract was a consequence of the lateness of the talks, which was attributable to them having to delay negotiations when Hamilton contracted Covid in December, and their mutual need to “see how the world develops”.
There may be the uncertainty attributable to the pandemic, in addition to by various main rule modifications in F1, together with a funds cap that begins this 12 months at $145m (£114m) and new technical guidelines for 2022 aimed toward closing up the sector.
Wolff mentioned the worldwide state of affairs might have an effect on the group’s income, whereas Daimler as a bunch is having to put money into electrification, including: “We live a monetary actuality that could be very completely different from a number of years in the past.”
He added: “We’re completely in line – Lewis and me and the broader group in Mercedes – in regards to the state of affairs, so there was by no means a discrepancy in opinion.
“It was simply we felt that we had a superb signature on a 2021 contract and we would have liked to get going after which discover a while in 2021 sooner than this time to debate the longer term.
“And it is to not talk about solely 2022 but additionally past, and that was not one thing we wished to carve out by way of video conferencing between Christmas and the tip of January.”
Wolff emphasised that the choice to arrange a basis on inclusivity and variety with Hamilton – an concept that originated from Daimler boss Ola Kallenius – “exhibits our long-term dedication to one another”.
Wolff mentioned: “There was by no means a second after we thought he would not signal and there was by no means a second when he doubted.”
He additionally rejected studies that Hamilton had requested for a veto on his future team-mate or for a share of group income.
He mentioned: “None of that’s true,” and described the claims as “baseless”.
Mercedes didn’t state the worth of Hamilton’s new contract however his earlier deal was for £30m a 12 months, with as much as an additional £10m accessible as bonuses.
Wolff mentioned the very fact Hamilton was one of the best driver, with an enormous world following and had achieved huge success was weighed in opposition to the truth that all 2,000 staff contribute to the group’s success.
“We now have at all times been fairly aligned of what the opposite aspect would count on on contractual phrases,” Wolff mentioned.
“As a result of he has this helicopter perspective on the broader world, it was a really robust 12 months for us personally – from a well being standpoint and from an financial standpoint – so he knew that despite the fact that he delivered on his aspect, there’s a monetary economical actuality that you will need to respect.”
Will Hamilton race on in 2022?
Wolff mentioned no resolution had been made on whether or not Hamilton would race on past 2021.
He mentioned he recognised that sportspeople had “shelf lives” however added: “So long as he enjoys racing, I believe he’s very able to going longer.
“He develops as a driver, he takes care of himself when it comes to bodily coaching and psychological preparation, so I do not suppose when it comes to potential that ends in 2021, however in the long run it is his resolution.”
The brand new deal means each Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas might be out of contract on the finish of 2021, as will Williams driver George Russell, a Mercedes protege who starred on changing Hamilton on the Sakhir Grand Prix in December, when the champion had coronavirus.
Wolff mentioned the “first discussions” over 2022 could be held with Mercedes’ two current drivers, however added: “On the opposite aspect, the younger drivers are the longer term, and we need to take into account how we need to set ourselves up for the years past.”
‘Hungry to compete’
Hamilton’s defence of his title begins on the Bahrain Grand Prix on 26 March and if he can win a fifth drivers’ championship in a row he’ll surpass the all-time file of seven he shares with Michael Schumacher.
He has received six of his world titles at Mercedes, with the opposite arriving at McLaren in 2008.
Mercedes have received the constructors’ championship seven occasions in a row and the drivers’ world title has additionally gone to one among their drivers for seven straight seasons, with Nico Rosberg’s 2016 success sandwiched in between Hamilton’s six wins.
“The story of Mercedes and Lewis has written itself into the historical past books of our sport over the previous eight seasons, and we’re hungry to compete and so as to add extra chapters to it,” mentioned Wolff.