F1: How Hamilton compares to Schumacher
Lewis Hamilton is willing to agree to a one-year contract which includes an option to extend his stay with Mercedes for the 2022 season, according to reports.
It has previously been claimed that Hamilton wanted a longer term agreement and that the length of the deal was a sticking point in negotiations.
But with the 2021 Formula One season fast approaching and Mercedes still to fill their seat alongside Valtteri Bottas, a deal is now inching closer.
Express Sport understands Mercedes have always been confident of extending Hamilton’s association with the team, having been a Silver Arrows driver since 2013 after switching from McLaren.
And Motorsport.com say Hamilton’s new deal will commit him to the Brackley-based outfit for 2021 although he is not necessarily tied down for 2022.
Instead, there is an option to extend the contract another year, by which time Hamilton might have already broken Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles, which he equalled in 2020.
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Previous reports suggested Hamilton wanted a deal as long as four years but the Brit has now accepted the one-year deal with an option for a second.
Speaking recently to RTL, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said that Hamilton would not pen a three-year extension having previously penned a two-year extension in the summer of 2018.
“I don’t think so,” the Austrian team principal said when asked if it would be a three-year deal, adding: “Soon is a flexible term but yeah [it will be done], soon.”
Wolff continued: “You have to keep your eyes open. We have a good relationship which is not only professional but also a friendship,” added the 49-year-old.
“Lewis is incredibly important, not only for our team but also for the Mercedes brand.
“But the landscape is changing right now. We have a big regulation change next year and the cost cap that will hit us hard next year.
“These are all factors that have played a role in our discussions. Also, of course, looking at the future.
“And then it goes into detail and we don’t want to be put under pressure. It should be a reasonable agreement and we are not far away from that.”
Now it appears that an agreement is finally close for the seven-time world champion, who was thought to have been paid around £40million a year with his previous deal.
Mercedes have confirmed via social media that they expect Hamilton to be present alongside Bottas when they unveil their W12 on March 2.
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And so official updates are expected in the coming days and weeks as the 36-year-old looks set to continue into his 15th season in F1.
An anonymous Mercedes insider reportedly told Formula1News this week: “Lewis’ future here was never in doubt. It’s just a question of time.”
Hamilton has won six of the last seven available titles in F1’s hybrid engine era and was only denied an incredible unprecedented streak of Drivers’ Championship triumphs by Nico Rosberg in 2016.
He has won all four titles since then and will bid for a fifth straight in 2020, which would see him surpass German icon Schumacher’s tally of seven.
Hamilton has already overtaken Schumacher in several statistics and holds the record for most race wins (95), most pole positions (98) and most podium finishes (165).
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Posting on Instagram last week, Hamilton insisted that he has been hard at work physically in the offseason to ensure he is at full fitness for 2021, having been hit badly by COVID-19 in December.
“Every morning I hike to the top of this mountain and I take some time to set my goals and intentions for the day,” he said.
“I’ve been training every day and at these altitudes, I find it’s the perfect place to push my mind and body to new heights to prep myself for the year and season ahead.
“Today, I’m sending you all positivity and light. I know these uncertain times can be dark but I want to ask that you don’t lose sight of your goals.
“Let’s keep each other motivated and focused. I believe in you. #TeamLH.”
The 2021 F1 season gets underway on March 28 in Bahrain with the scheduled calendar made up of 23 races and ending in Abu Dhabi on December 12.
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