F1: Lewis Hamilton goes cross-country skiing
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Lewis Hamilton made an ‘interesting’ decision in Mercedes contract negotiations, it has been claimed. The Brit finally ended months of uncertainty over his future by penning an extension on Monday. And he’ll now be determined to move out in front of Michael Schumacher in the history books.
Hamilton’s contract was announced by Mercedes on Monday, with the team saying: “The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team is pleased to announce that the reigning Formula One World Constructors’ Champion and the reigning F1 World Drivers’ Champion will continue together in 2021.
“The Mercedes works team and Lewis agreed a new contract which will see one of the sport’s most successful ever collaborations continue for a ninth consecutive season.
“A significant part of the new agreement builds upon the joint commitment to greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport that was made last year by Lewis and Mercedes.
“This will take the form of a joint charitable foundation, which will have the mission of supporting greater diversity and inclusion in all its forms in motorsport.
“Lewis made his F1 debut with Mercedes F1 engine customer team McLaren in 2007 and has been powered in all his 266 Grands Prix by Mercedes-Benz engines.
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“He joined the Mercedes works team in 2013 and has since won 74 F1 races as well as six Drivers’ Championships with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. In 2020, he broke Michael Schumacher’s win record and is now all-time race win record holder in Formula One.”
The length of the deal, however, has raised eyebrows.
Hamilton has only penned a one-year deal – which Sky Sports’ Craig Slater finds ‘interesting’.
“A senior figure at Mercedes expressed to me that both sides wanted flexibility of a year,” he said. “That is interesting.
“In Lewis Hamilton’s case, if he wins his eighth World title at the age of 36, he is ahead of Formula 1’s statistics by every measure, by every significant manner, he might wake up the next morning and decide he wants to do something else.
“As far as Hamilton and Mercedes are concerned, they have now dealt with 2021, but this by no means means they will not continue to work together in 2022, that Lewis won’t continue his racing career with Mercedes.
“A lot of people will surprised that it is just one year. Lewis has talked previously about being very interested in the new generation of cars that begins in 2022 so don’t count him out staying with Mercedes for that new era.”
Slater also thinks George Russell could very well joining Mercedes in 2022.
“With regards to George Russell, he’s still waiting in the wings,” he explained.
“You have a situation now that you will have for that 2022 season Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and George Russell all out of contract at Mercedes, which is interesting.
“But as long as Mercedes have the kind of car they’ve had for the last few years they will have no problems recruiting the driver they want.
“As far as Max Verstappen is concerned, he is contracted up to 2023 with Red Bull so you’d have to say, looking at things at the moment, George Russell now has maybe extra opportunity to get into that Mercedes seat in 2022 either if they don’t continue with Bottas or if Hamilton says ‘it’s eight, and I vacate’.”
After signing his new contract, Hamilton admitted he was excited to see what the future had in store.
“I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates,” he said.
“Our team has achieved incredible things together and we look forward to building on our success even further, while continuously looking to improve, both on and off the track.
“I’m equally determined to continue the journey we started to make motorsport more diverse for future generations and I am grateful that Mercedes has been extremely supportive of my call to address this issue.
“I’m proud to say we are taking that effort further this year by launching a foundation dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the sport.
“I am inspired by all that we can build together and can’t wait to get back on the track in March.”
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