Mercedes boss Toto Wolff ready to go to extreme lengths to keep record-breaker Lewis Hamilton on board as he jokes he would sell team’s factories to pay for world champion’s £40m-a-year salary
- Lewis Hamilton won the 92nd race of his F1 career at Portimao on Sunday
- The victory takes him past Michael Schumacher and into the all-time F1 lead
- Mercedes boss Toto Wolff joked he would sell team’s factories to keep Hamilton
- An agreement has not yet been reached for 2021 with the £40m-a-year driver
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is ready to sell the team’s factories to keep Lewis Hamilton after his latest record-breaking victory on Sunday.
Hamilton made history at the Portuguese Grand Prix with the 92nd win of his career to move one clear of Michael Schumacher in the all-time standings.
The 35-year-old Brit is out of contract at the end of the season. But both he and Mercedes want to extend their partnership.
Lewis Hamilton celebrates after securing his 92nd Grand Prix win at Portimao on Sunday
Hamilton leads his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the Portuguese Grand Prix
And Wolff joked he will go to extreme lengths to make that happen, saying of Hamilton’s £40million-a-year value: ‘It’s huge. We have to sell plenty of inventory. Sell the lease back of the buildings just to come up with the money.
‘It’s a surreal amount of wins. It’s his absolute passion and energy he puts into the sport that is astonishing. His talent, his ability – he is just standing out.’
Hamilton’s victory in Portimao lifted him one win ahead of Michael Schumacher’s once untouchable haul of 91 wins.
‘Did I think we would this many races?’ asked Hamilton after dominating the race. ‘Of course not. This is a phenomenal time for us. What a time to be alive.
Toto Wolff has joked that he’ll sell Mercedes’ factories if it means keeping Hamilton on board
Hamilton (right) overtook the legendary Michael Schumacher’s record on Sunday afternoon
‘I don’t believe in the saying, the sky is the limit. It depends how much we want it, how much we want to continue to raise the bar, and going by our history together at Mercedes, we won’t sit back.
‘Every race feels like the first one and I don’t know how that is possible after all these years but for me it does. There is a lot more for us to do, particularly in this crazy time with the pandemic, and as a leading business in terms of diversity and inclusivity. That keeps me inspired.
‘I still feel physically strong but of course you wonder when it is going to tip and you start losing performance, but judging by today, it is not yet..’
Max Verstappen, who finished third for Red Bull, led the grid’s tributes to the six-time champion. The nine-time race winner, 23, said: ‘Lewis says he keeps pushing because he wants to set a higher record. So I am going to have to work hard to get there.
Max Verstappen (right) of Red Bull led the tributes to Hamilton after his record-breaking day
Sir Jackie Stewart, who hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with Hamilton, lavished him with praise
‘He has 92 victories and he will not stop there because he will get to well over 100. It is an incredible achievement and it is pushing me to drive until I am 40.’
Three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart also moved to praise Hamilton’s new record.
The 81-year-old, who has not always seen eye-to-eye with Hamilton, told the PA news agency: ‘I congratulate Lewis on achieving the remarkable success in surpassing Michael’s record.
‘Lewis has had a hugely impressive career, from his karting days to his association with Ron Dennis at McLaren and then of course the wonderful Mercedes-Benz. I take my hat off to him for his considerable achievements and I wish him well for his continuing career.’
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