Hamilton wants new F1 contract by August
By Mat Coch
Saturday 15th May, 2021 - 12:45pm
Lewis Hamilton hopes to have his future ironed out before Formula 1 heads off on its summer break in August.
The seven-time world champion had protracted negotiations with Mercedes before eventually inking a one-year deal in February.
While a number of factors contributed to the delay, including Hamilton testing positive for COVID-19, the 36-year-old is keen to avoid a repeat scenario.
“We never want to be in the position that we were in, in January and February, it ruined my whole winter,” he said.
“I’m sure it wasn’t helpful for Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team boss] in terms of being able to be off and relax.
“It felt like we didn’t really have much of a break.”
Though Hamilton doesn’t expect discussions to be especially quick, by starting the conversation easier he suggests the process could be wrapped up by the time Formula 1 reaches Hungary in early August.
“I think we have to be sensible, naturally [we] don’t have to rush anything, but I think we have to be sensible and start conversations,” he said.
“They’re very complex, it’s never [a] super simple procedure, and so hopefully soon we can start – as long as it doesn’t interfere with the actual job, we still have 19 races to do so.
“It’ll be great to get something in place before the break, so that we could, again, be in that break and have a clear picture of the future.”
This season is Hamilton’s 15th in the sport and sees him competing for his eighth world championship.
Should he win it, he would become the first driver to reach the milestone, another in the laundry list of records he already holds.
In Spain last weekend he became the first driver to record 100 world championship pole positions, and is only two wins away from 100 grand prix victories.
He currently leads the drivers’ world championship by 14 points over Max Verstappen four races into a season senior Mercedes staff had tipped to be ultra-competitive.
Instead, Hamilton has won three of the races thus far, and finished second in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix despite going a lap down following a race mistake mid-race.
Hamilton’s comments are perhaps the clearest indication yet that he will continue next season.
Without a contract, and with new regulations set to be introduced for 2022, many had tipped the veteran to call time on his career at the end of the season.
Should he continue, it’s likely he’ll be joined at the factory Mercedes team by George Russell in place of Valtteri Bottas, who is out of contract at season’s end.
Part of Mercedes’ junior programme, Russell is both highly rated and a free agent at the end of the year.
He’s also demonstrated strong potential in the opportunities he’s had, including when substituting for Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.