Wolff explains thinking behind one-year Hamilton contract extension

Toto Wolff says the decision to only agree to a one-year contract extension with Lewis Hamilton was the result of both parties wanting time to finalise a longer deal

Wolff explains thinking behind one-year Hamilton contract extension

Mercedes ended weeks of speculation on Monday when it announced that seven-time Formula 1 world champion Hamilton would be staying on with the team in 2021.

But the fact that only a single-season contract was agreed prompted some surprise, and fuelled talk that 2021 could be the British driver's last season in F1.

Speaking to media on Monday, Wolff explained the background to Hamilton's contract length - and made clear that there was a desire from both to delay lengthier discussions regarding 2022 and beyond until the current season got going.

Wolff said that complications caused by both he and Hamilton catching coronavirus, which derailed hope of talks taking place towards the end of last season, forced a change of plan.

"We jointly agreed on a one year deal," said Wolff.

"First of all, there is a substantial regulation change in 2022.

"We also want to see how the world develops, and the company. Plus on the other side, it's because we kept it very late.

"We wanted to discuss the contract at the end of the [2020] season between the Bahrain races and then obviously, Lewis didn't feel well.

"In the end, we started our conversation just before Christmas so it was important to get it done as soon as possible.

"And in that respect, we thought, let's postpone the discussion about 2022 and onwards to a later stage in 2021."

Wolff explained that the ongoing uncertainties about the impact of coronavirus on F1, and especially in relation to team budgets, meant that it was difficult to make certain commitments now about a longer term contract.

That is why he feels contract talks in summer will be much clearer - and will allow time for proper discussion.

PLUS: Why F1 driver contracts are fraught with peril

"There are uncertainties in the world that affect the way that the sport can operate, that have an influence on our revenue, TV monies, and on sponsorship income," he said.

"Daimler, Mercedes, is in a huge transformation towards electric mobility and that means investments. So we are living in a financial reality that is very different to what it was a few years ago.

"But having said that, we are totally in line, Lewis and me and the wider group at Mercedes about the situation. So there was never any discrepancy in opinion.

"It was just that we felt we could get a good signature on the 2021 contract because we just need to get going and then find some time during 2021, earlier than this time around, to discuss the future.

"And it's not only specifically to 2022, but also beyond. And that is not something that we wanted to carve out via videoconferencing between Christmas and the end of January."

Wolff also rubbished any talk of Hamilton demanding a driver veto in his contract to avoid being partnered with another superstar driver, like Red Bull ace Max Verstappen.

He added that suggestions pay talks had hit a sticking point over a potential revenue share of Mercedes incomes were "baseless".

"On the specific clauses that were out there in the media, I don't know where they came from because none of that is true," he said.

"I actually read about this, and I found it interesting, but the truth is that there was not one second of discussion about any driver specific clause.

"He has never asked for that in the last eight years and it's a team decision.

"And the other clause about a revenue share - that came out of nowhere.

"That rumour was baseless too, so none of that was ever part of our discussions."

shares
comments
Why crypto fan tokens are coming to Formula 1

Previous article

Why crypto fan tokens are coming to Formula 1

Next article

Autosport Podcast: What we've learned from Hamilton's new F1 deal

Autosport Podcast: What we've learned from Hamilton's new F1 deal
Load comments
The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers Plus

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Michael Schumacher is the latest sporting superstar to get the ‘Netflix treatment’, with a special documentary film airing on the US streaming giant’s platform this month. DAMIEN SMITH has the inside track on how the filmmakers gained access to tell the human story behind one of Formula 1’s most publicity-shy champions - while the man himself, for obvious reasons, is in absentia… 

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery Plus

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2021
The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1 Plus

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Plus

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. DAMIEN SMITH brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Plus

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus Plus

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021