|Hamilton to become 3rd highest paid driver|
UPDATE #3 Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are set to sign a new deal which will see the current championship leader staying with the Anglo-German outfit until 2018.
It's believed the three-year deal is worth a total of $96m excluding potential bonuses for race wins and championship victories.
His annual salary could therefore reach upwards of $45m, made up of a basic salary of $32m and bonuses exceeding $12m if he wins another title.
It's the first time the Briton has negotiated his own deal after splitting with his management team last year. Contract talks started in November but will finally come to an end this week according to sources.
The new deal would currently see Hamilton become Formula 1's third highest paid driver behind Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, though with bonuses, he will likely be the highest paid come 2016.
Alonso earns $40m a year with McLaren-Honda for the duration of his contract, whilst Vettel will pocket $50m this year as part of a 'golden handshake' deal with Ferrari which sees him collect all possible bonuses without having to actually achieve them.
However that deal expires at the end of the year, where he will be on a base salary just less than Hamilton's new deal. grandprixtimes
03/27/15 GMM) Lewis Hamilton has now scribbled his name on a new contract beyond 2015, according to a Spanish newspaper.
After the reigning world champion said he hopes the deal is "done" this weekend in Malaysia, El Mundo Deportivo said Hamilton has indeed now signed up for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons.
"The official announcement is expected shortly," said correspondent Raymond Blancafort.
Until now, rumors of enormous pay demands by Hamilton have coincided with reports the 30-year-old has been in touch with Ferrari, and even recently bought an ultra-rare 'LaFerrari' supercar.
Asked by F1's official website if he knows his 'market value', having conducted his own contract negotiations for the first time, Hamilton answered in Malaysia: "I definitely, definitely do."
03/24/15 Lewis Hamilton hopes to put pen to paper on a new contract with Mercedes – which could be worth as much as Â£40 million a year – before this Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Hamilton, 30, is in the final year of his current deal and has been in negotiations with Mercedes executives Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda for the last two months.
Despite Hamilton’s upbeat appraisal, senior sources indicated an official announcement is not expected this weekend. It would be a major boost for Mercedes and their title sponsor, Malaysia’s state oil company, but it seems unlikely at this stage.
Hamilton told Sky Sports on Tuesday: “It is going back between the lawyers so hopefully it is done before the weekend. That would be great, but if not in due time."
The double world champion is currently paid an annual salary of around Â£20 million. Negotiations have been slow as he seeks to compete with the best paid drivers in Formula One. Sebastian Vettel is currently the benchmark, earning â‚¬50 million (Â£37 million) at Ferrari.
After splitting with Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment management company, Hamilton has also been conducting the talks himself with only the help of his in-house lawyer. They began last season, but were postponed around the time of the Russian Grand Prix in October with his title duel with team-mate Nico Rosberg reaching its climax.
Both Hamilton and Mercedes are in a very strong position. The Briton emphatically won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix while the team proved they have the best car in the sport by some distance.
There has been hope in some quarters that Hamilton may take the risk of leaving Mercedes and join Ferrari, to pit himself against Vettel. The Ferrari president, Sergio Marchionne, is a big admirer of Hamilton, but the chances of a move away from Mercedes appear slim. Telegraph
|Lewis Hamilton worth $77 million per year? Vettel is getting paid that from Ferrari, so maybe.|
(GMM) Toto Wolff has scoffed at a media report purporting to know the dizzying value of Lewis Hamilton's next Mercedes contract.
Although the reigning world champion now has no manager, the parties remain locked in protracted talks about a new deal beyond 2015.
London's Times newspaper said the current discussion is about a new three-year extension worth a staggering $231 million, or $77 million per year.
To be clear, that would be nearly an incredible $1.5 million per week for the 30-year-old Briton, making him easily the highest earner in the history of formula one.
"Sources say Hamilton has decided that, as world champion, he must be the best-paid man on the grid and is anxious to overtake the earnings of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso," the report claimed.
German media reports, however, quoted team boss Wolff as utterly rubbishing the claims, saying it is closer to "satire" than reality.
"Such numbers are an absolute illusion," the Austrian added.
"As Mercedes, we are committed to efficiency, even when it comes to the driver salaries," Wolff insisted.
Mercedes can probably afford to play hardball with Hamilton, given that although he is a proven title winner and arguably the most marketable driver on the grid, the German team is undoubtedly the most coveted address in pitlane.
"You're never in a perfect (negotiating) situation," Wolff said, "but as Lewis wants to be with us, and we want to keep him, what we need to do is find a basis for the two sides to come together."
Contract talks were said to be at an advanced stage some weeks ago at the Jerez test, "But it just takes time," Wolff explained.
"We have similar ideas, but it is important to implement them in a contract."
Turning his attention to Mercedes' looming title defense, meanwhile, Wolff admitted it will be healthy for the sport if there are more competitive opponents in 2015.
"Ferrari has made a big jump," he said, "and according to our estimates, they are also now really fast on the straight.
"This pleases us, because it is important for formula one that Ferrari is at the front," added Wolff.
"Like last year, Williams has built a car with low drag, so the only real question mark we have is Red Bull."