Lewis Hamilton has reportedly rejected the contract that Mercedes has offered him. This means as of now, the 7-time world champion who last season became the most successful F1 driver of all-time statistically is out of a job for the 2021 season.
Hamilton has rejected an offer which could have seen him make 40 million euros a year with a 10 per cent bonus for winning the world championship. Reportedly, Hamilton has been looking at a long term 4-year contract and also is looking for more money.
Got to love #F1 news speculation giving rise to a Schrödingers Contract in which a driver can be both signed & unsigned, in & out of contract, terms agreed & disagreed, definitely at the peak of a career & also maybe retired. ????♂️ pic.twitter.com/jZhx1qZg5Q— Mark Gallagher (@_markgallagher) January 3, 2021
However, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Hamilton contract is being blocked by Daimler's board of directors who are of the view that investing in Hamilton for another four years would be a mistake considering he will turn 36 this month and his salary would be too steep in light of the pandemic.
Daimler like all big auto majors has been ravaged by the pandemic. The auto industry also finds itself amidst a once in a century core technology transition from the internal combustion engine to electric motors. Ola Kallenius, the chairman of Daimler, is of the view that it would be okay for Mercedes to promote its junior driver George Russell over Hamilton, if the Briton doesn't yield, in light of his performance at the Sakhir GP when he subbed for Hamilton who was incapacitated because of COVID19.
George Russell is also significantly cheaper and has already been earmarked as future world champion. Hamilton, of course, feels he has earned the right to a salary bump considering his status as the most successful driver of all-time, but it should also be noted he is already the most well-paid driver on the grid. If Hamilton doesn't agree to the terms that Mercedes has lined up, he could be without a drive just not for 2021 but also 2022 as the all the major teams, including Ferrari and Red Bull, had a lot of movement in 2020.
Toto Wolff, the CEO and team principal of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team and 33 per cent owner, has said that the contract with Hamilton will be done, but this is proving to be more complicated than imagined. Hamilton had earlier indicated a Christmas deadline for the conclusion of the contract but now we are in the New Year.
The latest rumour is that Lewis Hamilton wants a 4 year deal but Daimler is only offering 2 years because of his age.— ???????????????????????? '????????????????????????????' ???????? ???????? ???????? (@WelsZA) January 2, 2021
I think he should just take the 2 years and go to McLaren or whatever if he wants to carry on after 2022. pic.twitter.com/lf5T6yVuAD
Toto Wolff recently gave a renewed deadline which is just before the winter tests start, however, it has been reported that Ola Kallenius wants this process to be closed as soon as possible.
It will be quite the shame if Hamilton is pushed into retirement or forced to take a hiatus from F1 at the peak of his career. Hamilton was recently announced in the Queen's New Years list which means he has the potential to become the first active F1 driver to have been knighted.