Lewis Hamilton has signed a contract extension that will see him race for Mercedes until the end of the 2021 Formula 1 season.
Just a few short weeks until the 2021 season begins, Lewis Hamilton has finally put pen to paper and signed up with Mercedes to race this season. Hamilton’s previous contract expired at the end of 2020, and there were notable delays in his new contract being signed – with no solid explanation offered as to why the two parties had yet to formalise their arrangement.
However, the deal is now done, and Hamilton will race for Mercedes this year and takes him through until the end of the current regulation cycle.
According to Mercedes, Hamilton’s new contract includes details of a joint commitment to include greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport – this taking the form of a joint charitable foundation. This expands upon The Hamilton Commission, which Lewis set up in the UK last summer with the intention of increasing diversity within motorsport.
“I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates.” said Hamilton of the deal, which takes him into his ninth consecutive season with the works team. “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.”
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“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.”
The fact that Hamilton has only signed a one year extension does raise some questions, as it means that it’s only a few months time before negotiations have to begin all over again. The upcoming budget cap for 2022 doesn’t yet include driver salaries, but has been mooted to expand to include a cap on driver payments. There were also rumours regarding the contract talks that Hamilton wanted a three year deal, or wanted a veto on future teammates. But Toto Wolff, team boss at Mercedes, has denied there was any legitimacy to these rumours: “There was never any talk of having a say with teammates beyond 2021. And also never of a share of the TV money.”
Toto Wolff, who increased his shareholding in the team to become a 1/3 owner during the winter break, says the new contract is just the start of a long-term project of the team to increase diversity: “We have always been aligned with Lewis that we would continue, but the very unusual year we had in 2020 meant it took some time to finish the process.”
“Together, we have decided to extend the sporting relationship for another season and to begin a longer-term project to take the next step in our shared commitment to greater diversity within our sport. Lewis’s competitive record stands alongside the best the sports world has ever seen, and he is a valued ambassador for our brand and our partners. The story of Mercedes and Lewis has written itself into the history books of our sport over the past eight seasons, and we are hungry to compete and to add more chapters to it.”