The seventh times Formula one ace is yet to sign a new contract with the Mercedes champions even though the 2021 Formula One season is about to start in Melbourne, Australia in two months time. Lewis Hamilton has been knighted after wining his seventh Formula One title at the end of 2020 season. The Mercedes AMG Petronas Team Principal, Toto Wolff has once alluded to both the team and driver to focus on wrapping up the 2020 F1 championship title and not to be distracted by sometimes difficult contract negotiations. Wolff sighted contract talks were also affected by Covid-19 pandemic which changed the whole ball game altogether. Both the 2020 F1 constructor’s and driver’s tittle were secured by Mercedes AMG and Hamilton respectively with a couple race to spare before the season ender in Abu Dhabi. It is reported that the seven times F1 champion has put forward four demands during the contract talks with the Silver Arrows that had made the management to consider other options.
First demand – salary rise
The first demand from Hamilton is the salary rise to 35.5 million dollars a year, which would ensure that he’s the highest paid F1 driver on the grid. Even though most F1 teams are struggling to meet the expensive demands of F1 championship participation, there is one certain driver who demands more on his pay check. Fans highly regard Hamilton and he’s one of the best drivers in his generation, but we need to consider what are the current circumstances that everyone is going through especially the Covid-19 pandemic unless Mercedes are comfortable and ready to meet this demand. F1 management are planning to introduce salary cap to all F1 drivers in 2022 including expenditure by teams. The situation might spiral out of hand if not well managed and if the reports are something to be believed.
Second demand – 10% share of prize money
It is rumoured that Hamilton demands 10% share of Mercedes prize money should they win any F1 championship during his tenure. This is something I have never heard of since I followed F1 in the past 20 years, it’s simply ridiculous. Bonuses for drivers should have nothing to do with the teams prize money, what about the mechanics, men and women at the factories who work flat out for the team to succeed, it just doesn’t make sense. On the flip side of the coin, it is natural for any athlete who’s at the pick of his career to put these demands forward for the last by one time before hanging up his helmet, it is no surprise that this might be Hamilton’s last contract as a Formula One driver.
Third demand – AMG Project One car
A third demand is that Mercedes gift the seven-time world champion one of their highly prized asset, the limited production Mercedes AMG Project One car. The two-door coupe features F1-derived technology and only 250 of these will be manufactured. Well this third demand is relevant on the fact that this would be a token of appreciation and recognition from Mercedes, honoring one of their greatest F1 drivers for all the championship titles he’s brought to the team. I guess if gifted with one of these high tech sport cars, Hamilton would cherish the asset for the rest of his life looking at his passion for the sport and the commitment he’s shown throughout his entire career. That remains to be seen whether Mercedes would agree to this demand only time would tell as the negotiations between the two continue.
Fourth demand – role in Mercedes
This one Hamilton looks at his future beyond being a mere F1 driver. Hamilton wants to be offered a role where he can transition the Silver Arrows beyond combustion engines to electric power units. Most engine manufacturers are looking at greener and cleaner energy sport which is the future of motorsport, this strategy is also embedded in Formula One for the next generation of power units. So it is fitting for Hamilton to be part of this evolutionary development and contributing to Mercedes as much as he could, he doesn’t want to close the chapter on F1 and move away completely from the sport. Most F1 legends either leave the sport completely and contribute very little or a few end up being TV pundits which does not really add any value to the development of motorsport in general.
It remains to be seen, according to reports, that Toto Wolff and Mercedes co-owners Daimler will give in to Hamilton’s requests. It is understood that Daimler are using George Russell as a negotiation tool, he stepped in for Hamilton when the latter was diagnosed with Covid-19 virus at the Sakhir Grand Prix. However, there is confidence from both parties that Hamilton and Mercedes will extend the contract satisfactorily for both sides.
Other news on the grid
There will be several changes to the 2021 grid with Fernando Alonso returning to Renault and Carlos Sainz moving to Ferrari. Sergio Perez will join Max Verstappen at Red Bull as a replacement for Alex Albon. Haas has a complete overall of its drivers for the 2021 season, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin will be joining in to propel the team forward. Sebastian Vettel has moved from Ferrari to join newly branded Aston Martin while Daniel Ricciardo left Renault to occupy the seat left Sainz at McLaren.
The F1 2021 season kick start with the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne Park on the 21st March. However, there are already news that the season opener is likely to be postponed due to strict corona virus regulations in Australia. Discussions are ongoing between F1 management and race organizers in Melbourne to figure out the best and safest solution on the matter. Another option that is being considered is the Bahrain GP which is the second venue on the F1 calendar. Should the Australian GP be postponed it would be a big blow to the F1 management, teams and the organizers as this would surely affect the calendar and logistical arrangements.