Toto Wolff has clarified that Team Mercedes wants clarity on the future of Lewis Hamilton, its star driver, who is arguably now the greatest F1 driver of all time. Hamilton who was knighted at the beginning of 2021, didn't sign a contract with Mercedes to renew his partnership with the German marquee with whom he won 6 of his 7 world titles till the end of February which caused a lot of chaos. Even when he did, he signed a single year deal. So for the future, Wolff, the Mercedes F1 CEO and 33 per cent owner want to not have the same situation again.
We have agreed to restart contract negotiations at a relatively early point this year. We are doing this to avoid the situation of 2020. We can have enough discussion now about his future with racing and we are giving ourselves enough time for that," explained team boss Toto Wolff.
Hamilton recently said at the launch of the W12 car that he had achieved most thing he had desired from the sport, and from now onwards he would live more in the moment and focus on a season a year at a time.
Both Wolff and Hamilton also admitted that the discussions were delayed because first in January the Briton was infected by COVID19, and then in January the Austrian was afflicted by the disease. Hamilton is also 36 years old and will be the third oldest driver on the grid in 2021 after Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso which means that he may not have many years left. That being said the Hamilton brand is stratospheric and he remains the most gifted driver on the grid which is why Wolff wants to lock down his future as soon as possible.
For Hamilton, perhaps the elusive eighth F1 title remains the only allure of staying in the sport as it will enable him to break Michael Schumacher's record. If he achieves that in 2021 itself, then his future will be dependent on the competitiveness of the 2022 Mercedes car which could be tricky as F1 braces itself for sweeping rules changes, new car types and budget cuts that have been fashioned to disavow the advantage of big teams like Mercedes.