F1: Lewis Hamilton extends Mercedes contract
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Lewis Hamilton feared George Russell ‘embarrassing’ him at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, according to reports. The Brit signed a new contract with the Silver Arrows on Monday, ending months of uncertainty in the process. And that will be enough to keep speculation at bay – at least for the time being.
Hamilton’s new contract is just a year long.
And while the prospect of Russell joining for the time being has been put to bed, it could still happen in the future.
Before Hamilton extended his stay with the Silver Arrows, who he’s been with since joining from McLaren in 2013, talk of Russell switching allegiances was rife.
Now he’s signed a new contract but, given it’s just for another 12 months, his compatriot remains tipped to join.
Russell filled in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix last year, at a time where the 36-year-old was sidelined due to coronavirus.
And the Daily Mail say the seven-time World Champion feared that, had Russell replaced him for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and impressed, it would have weakened his hand in negotiations.
He then upped the ante to return in time and did just that.
Hamilton is excited about what the future holds, saying: “I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates.
“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.
“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.”
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff added: “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.”
Markus Schafer, Mercedes Non-Executive Chairman, also hailed the deal.
“We’re very happy to keep the most successful F1 driver of the current era in the most successful F1 team of the current era,” he said.
“Lewis is not only an incredibly talented driver; he also works very hard for his achievements and is extremely hungry.
“He shares his passion for performance with the entire team which is why this collaboration has become so successful.
“But Lewis is also a warm-hearted personality who cares deeply about the world around him and wants to make an impact.
“As a company, Mercedes-Benz shares this sense of responsibility and is proud to commit to a new, joint foundation to improve diversity in motorsport.
“Opening the sport to under-represented groups will be important for its development in the future and we’re determined to make a positive impact.”
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