57 days after the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix brought a unique campaign to a close, Mercedes finally announced that seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton penned a new one-year deal with the team. It’ll be the Brit’s ninth season with the team as he goes for a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ Championship in 2021.
Speaking to the media today, Toto Wolff said that it was a mutual agreement between Hamilton and the team to with a one-year deal. The Austrian team principal explained why that was the case on this occasion.
“We jointly agreed on a one-year deal,’’ said Wolff. ‘’First of all, there is a substantial regulation change in 2022. We also want to see how the world develops and the company.”
Wolff added that contract negotiations for 2021 were due to start between the Bahrain races but had to be delayed when Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19. With that in mind, both parties have decided to wait to hold talks on a potential deal for 2022 and beyond.
“Because we kept it very late, we wanted to discuss the contract at the end of the season between the Bahrain races, and then Lewis obviously didn’t feel well. At the end we started out negotiation conversation just before Christmas.
“It was important to get it done as soon as possible and in that respect we thought let’s postpone the discussion about 2022 an onwards to a later stage in 2021.”
Mercedes’ team principal went into further detail about why a longer deal wasn’t agreed. The impact of the coronavirus and the financial strain it’s putting on the teams is a huge factor in F1 at the moment.
“There are uncertainties in the world that affect the way the sport can operate that have an influence on our revenue, on TV monies, on sponsorship income,” said Wolff.
“Daimler and Mercedes are in a huge transformation towards electric mobility and that means investments. So we are living in a financial reality that is very different to what it was a few years ago.
“But having said that we are totally in line, Lewis and me and the wider group in Mercedes, about this situation. So there was never any discrepancy in opinion. It was just that we felt we’ve got to put signature on the 2021 contact because we need to get going and then find some time during 2021, earlier than this time around, to discuss the future.
“And it’s not only specifically to 2022 but also beyond and that is not something that we wanted to carve out via videoconferencing between Christmas and the end of January.”
Wolff also took the opportunity to state that Hamilton has never asked for a veto on who should be his teammate and other baseless claims that the British driver wanted a revenue split or revenue share.
“On the specific clauses that were out there in the media, I don’t know where that came from because none of that is true,” he said.
“I actually read about this, I found it an interesting perspective, but the truth is there was not a second of discussion about any driver-specific clause. He has never asked for that in the last eight years and it’s a team decision.
“The other clause about a revenue split or revenue share, that rumour was baseless, too. So none of that was ever part of our discussions.”