Wolff: ‘Lewis needs to decide what his future holds’

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says that “Lewis needs to decide what his future holds for him” after finally reaching an agreement with Hamilton on a new, one-year contract.

The 36-year-old’s place at the Mercedes-AMG F1 Team for 2021 was made official just over a month out from pre-season testing, with talks said to have been held up at least by Hamilton testing positive for COVID-19 late last year.

While the meaning of the single-year term was questioned, Wolff claims the relative brevity of the contract was due to a desire to simply get a contract signed before the upcoming campaign begins, as well as current uncertainty over commercial factors.

Nevertheless, with Hamilton obviously closer to the end of his driving career than the start, his boss would not be drawn on the seven-time champion’s line of thinking about 2022 and beyond.

Wolff did, however, advise that Mercedes would enter into talks first with the Briton and fellow incumbent Valtteri Bottas, as a likely successor in George Russell waits at Williams.

“Lewis needs to decide what his future holds for him, that’s why I wouldn’t want to comment on where Lewis stands,” said the Austrian.

“The team needs to decide in the long term what we want to do about drivers.

“Valtteri and Lewis have our 100 percent commitment and loyalty for 2021, we will support them with everything we have and we will then look beyond this year and see what is the line-up we imagine in 2022 and onwards.

“Our first discussions will be with Valtteri and Lewis in respecting our values of loyalty and integrity.

“On the other side, young drivers are the future, therefore we need to consider how we want to set ourselves up for the years beyond.”

Despite signalling that generational change may not be too far away, Wolff forecasts that Hamilton will continue to be competitive beyond his current contract should the 95-time grand prix winner choose to renew again.

“As long as he enjoys racing, I think he’s very capable of going longer,” he remarked.

“He develops as a driver, he looks after himself in terms of physical training and mental preparation, so I don’t think in terms of ability that ends in 2021.

“But at the end it’s his decision.”

Mercedes’ season launch takes place early next month, before pre-season testing at Bahrain on March 12-14.

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