The matter of Lewis Hamilton’s expiring Mercedes contract could be delayed until after the 2020 season.
Earlier, the six-time world champion indicated that he felt uncomfortable negotiating a new deal for 2021 and beyond amid the covid crisis.
But others suspect that he is waiting to see not only how speculation of a potential team sale pans out, but also what role Toto Wolff will have in the future.
“It is clear that I want to continue with the team, but we can sit down to do that later,” Hamilton said. “I am not talking to anyone else.”
The German broadcaster RTL claims the matter of Hamilton’s contract has been postponed until after the 2020 racing season.
When asked about that, team boss Wolff told Sky Deutschland: “That can happen. We have already done that in the past.
“I love working with Lewis and I think it’s mutual. A contract like that requires a lot of detailed work so we want to take our time to look at that.”
September 29, 2020
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton is “playing poker” over his next contract at Mercedes, according to a former driver.
Valtteri Bottas is already signed up to keep racing for the dominant team in 2021, but Hamilton is reportedly yet to even sit down for talks with Toto Wolff.
Some believe the six-time world champion and runaway 2020 points leader is holding out for a pay rise, while others think he is waiting to see if boss Wolff also signs up for next year and beyond.
“I like working with Lewis, and I think he likes working with me,” Wolff admitted at Sochi.
“I think that together, including all the other 2000 staff, we can still achieve a lot.
“But if one of us decides to leave one day, then it will not affect Mercedes in any way – the team will continue to perform at the same level,” said the team boss.
“Yes, if Lewis goes, we will lose the best driver, that’s obvious,” Wolff continued. “We all agree that we want to continue our cooperation.”
Former Red Bull driver Robert Doornbos said he believes Wolff is in the process of selling his stake in the Brackley and Brixworth-based team for $300 million.
“The question is whether he will stay after that,” the Dutchman told Ziggo Sport. “It’s possible that after selling his shares he will leave and join the new Aston Martin factory team.”
Marc Surer, another former driver, thinks Hamilton is therefore waiting for now.
“He can afford to be playing poker. Who else are they going to take instead of him?” he told AvD Motorsport Magazin.
“The team depends on him so they have to wait for him. We saw that Verstappen has beaten Bottas a few times this year, but beating Hamilton is much more difficult.
“What that means is that Lewis doesn’t need to hurry,” Surer added.
Another former driver, Karl Wendlinger, agrees with that.
“I doubt he even has to think about it,” he said when asked about Hamilton’s forthcoming negotiations. “It will work out for him. He will stay with Mercedes because he knows he has the best package.”