F1: Lewis Hamilton goes cross-country skiing
With testing a little over a month into the future, Lewis Hamilton remains without a new contract. And every passing day raises more questions as to whether he will sign one.
It is a unique situation. The defending world champion, the dominant driver of the present era, without a seat for the coming season.
And if Hamilton and Mercedes are unable to come to an agreement, he will miss the 2021 season entirely with every other team having already secured their driver line-up.
With such uncertainty abounding ahead of the new season, every comment from Hamilton, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, and the surrounding F1 media is exceptionally pertinent as the pieces of the puzzle are slowly put together.
So when Wolff puts a time limit on the current talks, it is significant, and a potential hint that a new Hamilton deal is stalling somewhat as he attempts to kickstart negotiations.
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“The lawyers are hard at work,” Mercedes boss Wolff told ORF’s Sport am Sonntag program via Grandpx.news when asked about the progress being made in contract discussions.
Wolff then provided more context on a potential deadline. “We have to sign something at some point before Bahrain at the latest,” he added.
There have also been suggestions that the performance of George Russell in Hamilton’s stead at the Sakhir Grand Prix was used as a threat against the seven-time world champion.
Wolff, though, plainly refuted such claims.
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“In our long-term partnership, it is never about any threatening gestures. I did threaten him that I am next in line for his seat,” he joked.
“We will pull out the pen at some point. We have such a solid basis in our relationship and we want to continue to have more successes in the future.”
It is clear, then, that Wolff and Mercedes are still eager to sign Hamilton to a new deal, but there is a deadline as to which a decision must be made.
That deadline is pre-season testing, which this year will be held in Bahrain on the weekend of March 12 – 14.
That gives Hamilton and Mercedes a month-and-a-half to agree upon new terms, though you would think that neither would like the saga to drag right up to the eve of the new season.
Equally, Hamilton previously said that he wants to return to Mercedes in 2021.
“I plan to be here next year. I want to be here next year,” Hamilton said in December, as tweeted out by the official Mercedes Twitter account.
“I think we as a team have more to do together and more to achieve, both in the sport but even more outside it.”
Time, however, is ticking and Hamilton and Mercedes need to secure an agreement soon.
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