Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff has revealed that Lewis Hamilton's contract negotiations have to be closed before the end of the season. The Austrian told Channel 4 that it wouldn't be possible for the team to enter a new season without a contract closed as it would need to know who its drivers are.
"It must be this season. You can't start a new year without knowing what your driver line-up is," he told Channel 4. Wolff revealed that the delays are related to the intensity of the unique F1 season which has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
"With the intensity of this season we just didn't have the time to spend the day properly with each other because you want to recover in those days between," added Wolff.
Hamilton who is on the cusp of becoming the most successful F1 driver of all time with 90 race wins and 6 world titles is just one race win and one world championship behind Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91 wins and 7 world titles.
Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013 having won 5 of his 6 world crowns since joining the team. Wolffe expects the negotiations to be completed before the season is finished.
"We keep it pretty loose, and at a certain stage we've already said we've got to sit down and take the old contract out that we haven't looked at since three years ago and say 'okay, what do we want to change in that?'"
Hamilton is expected to extend his stint with the silver arrows but he remains the only top driver in the paddock who doesn't have a closed contract for 2021. Last race Sebastian Vettel revealed that he was moving to the Racing Point team in 2021, while Fernando Alonso is joining Renault and Ricciardo is joining McLaren.
Both Hamilton and Wolffe seem quite relaxed about this situation though. Hamilton was even seen driving the new Mercedes S-Class which was unveiled earlier this month which indicates that his ties to the parent brand remain as solid as ever.
Regardless of what happens, Hamilton's legacy as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time is cemented.