There’s a strong sense of déjà vu here. Though it appears Lewis Hamilton’s new contract with Mercedes is now just a matter of time.
TJ13 has been critical of Mercedes in their handling of this matter, given never before has such a saga played out in public over any other Formula One driver contract extension.
It is normative for an employer or organisation wishing to secure the services of a prized individual, to ensure they get the deal over the line before another party has the opportunity to steal this individual from under their noses.
We have been hearing for some time the matter is now done. Lewis claimed “99.6% done” during the Malaysian GP weekend. Yet no announcement has been forthcoming and naturally questions arise as to what the sticking points are to prevent such a public embarrassment for Mercedes being resolved.
The most recent suggestion is that last minute, Lewis has asked for number one status as driver, though today Toto Wolff dismissed this notion today.
“No, it is not the case, and he wouldn’t ask for that clause because it’s not what we do and I think he appreciates how we manage the team, giving both drivers equal status,” Wolff told Sky Sports News.
“It is down to the detail. We have discussed and negotiated for a long time. We have sorted out the main terms since a couple of months already, and it’s just a bit of ping pong between the lawyers and it is the normal process.
“I would really wish to sort it out within the next couple of days or weeks without putting ourselves under pressure because this is a great relationship and we want to win races.”
Whilst Lewis was handling the negotiations, TJ13 was informed directly by the team that it was difficult to move the matter forward, due to Lewis off season holidays and personal schedule in and around the winter testing.
This is understandable, but the matter has now been with the lawyers for weeks. The legal advisors to both parties are on hand pretty much 24/7, so it remains a mystery as to why mere matters of ‘detail’ are taking so long to resolve
The sub-text in such situations is that there is a significant sticking point, often introduced by one or other of the party’s as a last minute ‘red line’ caveat.
The sticking point is clearly not ‘run of the mill detail’, but as to its exact nature – neither party is letting on at present.
There have been times during this marathon negotiation, where one or other of the parties has been frustrated with the other and brought issues into the public domain.
Ferrari’s chairman has stated his interest in Lewis in the Italian media and Toto Wolff practically threatened the British world champion by publically naming his replacements in Bottas or Alonso – should the contract extension fail to be agreed.
Behind the scenes, as the major shareholder it is certain that Daimler Benz and the board in Stuttgart are heavily involved in the negotiation – and their actions strongly suggest they are not prepared to retain Lewis Hamilton – at any price.
Whether that price is more than Ferrari have paid for Vettel, or McLaren Honda for Alonso may be a cause for frustration with Hamilton.
Ferrari are well known for writing the biggest cheques if necessary to get the right man for the Scuderia. And with the SF15-T looking strong early in the year – and with a war chest available for in season development, it could well be that Lewis’ head is being turned, as the historic Italian marque, courts favour with him.
Until the deal is announced, in reality it is as far from being concluded as it has ever been.
‘We love each other, but we can’t find agreement on how to stay together’.
Were negotiations to break down in the future, and the Mercedes/Lewis PR revert to – ‘we’ll conclude this matter when we’ve finished out title fight’. This would surely be a strong indication that Lewis is already taking lessons in Italian.
I said it a couple of times already, and I will say it again. Mercedes will not be successful for a long time and unravel rather quickly. The key to success in F1 is to establish a team of driven and talented team, make sure they have the perfect environment to do their job and then KEEP IT TOGETHER. This is not only about the negotiations with Lewis, but also about the numbers of staff that have left for other teams already.
Exactly. Toto takes a huge gamble by even entertaining to let Lewis go, and fostering this uncertainty for… years:
The obvious thing is to say that maybe the contract negotiations are stuck due to monetary demands. The details however might be around not his base salary but the bonus per win, championship, etc.
Personally though, I think that the sticking point is not money or no 1 status (which silly person even suggested that as speculation?!), but rather caveats for leaving the team. Seeing how quickly Ferrari are catching up and maybe McLaren in the future too, he may not want to commit his future to Merc for the next 3 years minimum. He may want to have options open to leave even after next year or the year after. He went through that with McLaren before (winning the title in ’08 and then battling with no hope for the next 4 years), so he may not want to do that again. Plus, he’ll probably want to go to Ferrari before he retires or even close his career back at McLaren.
I am so agreeing with you. This was my initial thought, but then you literally wrote everything I was going to add. Thx for that.
Yeah, and I’m with you guys. This is about how much of a foot in the door Lewis wants, vs how much the team want to nail him down.
So busy right now but TBH Lewis V Seb @ Ferrari would be it. Nothing i can think of would make me want to watch races more, especially if they get thereabouts with Mercedes
Although Sergio is very keen on Lewis joining Ferrari, those in the team might be less positive on what could be a potentially explosive mix. It seems Ferrari are finally starting to enjoy racing again this year, I think when Kimi moves on someone like Max or Valtteri might be a better fit at Maranello?
Rosberg leaving Merc early also looks more likely based on what’s happened so far in 2015.
Yeah me too, and in my head it completes the circle comparison chart off nicely too!
Slightly off topic but Judge, in your opinion, how would Ross Brawn have managed the two drivers (Lewis and Nico), and what rules would he have laid down, if any?
No easy answer to that, because Brawn had a number 1/2 scenario with Schumacher at Ferrari for around a decade and Jenson was miles ahead of Barichello after 6 races in the Brawn winning year of 2009.
It’s different managing drivers when a title is at stake – every issue is heightened. But Brawn was comfortable in his own skin and would apply the same pragmatic and equitable principles regardless.
But whatever he said went – and despite those who say Lewis can do as he pleases because he is a world champion and Mercedes need him – if Brawn said No – then No it would be – to either driver.
This was patently clear in Malayisa when Red Bull’s Christian Horner was being usurped by Vettel… Lewis and Nico did as Brawn said.
Clearly Toto and Paddy do not have the same respect from the drivers as Brawn commanded. Lewis in particular publicly ignored team orders in Hungary – I suspect under Brawn that would not have happened.
Then again, Ross didn’t have the 3 pointed star engraved on his forehead like Toto does…
And also Lauda has a far closer relationship with Hamilton than he does with Rosberg – who prefers to be his own man.
Interesting, thanks. I am also sure that had Ross been in the team, Lewis and Nico would have respected what he would say, and that would be the end of it. I definitely think he commanded more respect from the drivers and to be honest, I just don’t rate Wolff as a team boss. It seems to be all over the place from a management point of view.
The million dollar question though – would Ross have allowed both Nico and Lewis to race freely without as many restrictions? I suspect so, as it would have been drummed into both drivers, esp Nico, that any contact between the two or playing silly buggars would result in serious consequences. This may have been already tried by Wolff and co but for the reasons mentioned, I just don’t think the drivers are as in ‘awe’ of the team boss as they should be. Thoughts on that judge?
Recall the chilling Malaysia 2013 episode… What made the boys stay in position and not throw the toys over the pram? Not much, really. Saint Ross let it be felt to his brats that should they not obey, papa bear was gonna get mighty angry…
Surely the same threat from the Wolff or the Enforcer can’t have the same chilling effect… 🙂
@landroni Lol. I suspect the drivers interpretive grids would mean they heard ‘Irish jig music’ and ‘Julie Andrews’ in their heads – rather than the John Williams 1975 movie score 😉
I personally doubt Ross Brawn would have given Nico Rosberg a big contract extension as soon as Monaco 2014. I think he would have had the brains to wait until Spa atleast.
Because there has been tension between HAM and ROS ever since that extension (technically even in Bahrain and Spain) and now Mercedes might be left without their star driver and a guy who wont cut it when cars will be near equal, which will happen at some point.
The more I think about it the more I think he may be off to Ferrari. They are an upcoming team at the moment and if you look at Kimi’s lifestyle at Ferrari then you can imagine that being something Hamilton would like.
It’s going to drag on for a while all this, I just hope the outcome will be for the benefit of F1 in general.
Off topic, but that light blue small text for the quotes is really difficult to read; bigger and darker pretty please.
Hamilton’s response on the no 1 status request
“I’ve never, ever, ever asked for a number one clause,” Hamilton told Sky Sports News HQ. “Sebastian will have that. Fernando always asks for that. I have never, ever asked for that.”
Lewis’s the problem, he thinks he is a demigod of the tracks, he maybe is, but he has to prove it first and then ask for absurd conditions. My guess? He wants to be the highest paid driver in history for all the wrong reasons, not because that shows respect to the best driver in the grid -which he is not- but because then he can get that feeling of being special the cheap way -the guy isn’t very smart- blinging-blinging it in social media and buying bigger and more stupid gold chains.
Your problem is that you are basing your criticism on hearsay rather than fact. He has not asked for number 1 status, and nor would he ever – it goes against what he stands for. Furthermore, it is quite clear he is not going to be the highest paid driver, and he probably doesn’t really care about that. He’s not going to go into negotiations accepting the first offer they give him – it’s just not how it works.
On the other hand Lewis has been negotiating since Abu Dhabi last year – that’s five months. Vettel, who also negotiates all his contracts himself, hacked out a contract with Fezza in less than two months. So, it doesn’t really need a rocket scientist to work out that there might be some tricky issues that Hamilton and Merc can’t agree upon, wouldn’t you say?
yes, like it takes 2 rocket scientists to work out that every contract negotiation is the same and both parties always met in the middle first time
I coulda done Sebs deal over a drink in a lap dance club and not missed any of the action
– Hi Seb we are not very good now but we have lots of money and really are gonna throw it to beat Merc
– I want the biggest wage, bigger than Alonso will get from Honda
– we are not sure what that will be but we offer you x million which is the highest ever
– Ok but I want a signing n bonus as well of x/3 just to make sure
-yup, did you see the titties on that one?
I wish you would stop banging on about how Vettel negotiates his contracts and how quickly he has done so. It’s well known that Vettel has had contact with Ferrari since something like 2011, and it’s also no secret that he was wanting to drive for them at some point in his career. Then comes 2014, where his on track performances left a lot to be desired for, coupled with the demise of Renault. The Ferrari and Alonso relationship soured dramatically last season and all this meant that Ferrari were on the look out for another driver – And who was available and had strong links with them? Vettel. He wanted to jump ship and Ferrari wanted him – he wasn’t going to bargain particularly hard with a team who were going to stump up a sh!tload of cash for him and he also didn’t need convincing.
You’re comparing two different scenarios and portraying it in such a way to make it look like Lewis is inept in sorting out his own contract.
Sorry, but Vettel did not have a contract since 2011. Where did you get that junk from?
Hips, you saw an ‘r’ that wasn’t there….
You possibly wouldnt know this but in business its about supply and demand. If he is in demand then he can afford to wear gold chains, and drag out contract talks trying his luck or trying for th biggest wage he can squeeze out. Both sides face each other and the first one to blink loses. He may not be very smart but he is smart enough to be in the position he is in – smarter than Alonso and Seb.
Now using a few of my brain cells after pulling my head outta my arse and it seems to me that the finer details will be all to do with sponsors and such comittments. When I pulled my head out I noticed Hamilton has been said to be the biggest draw in F1 for those outside. So he probably wants a monetary reward for doing what he has done that Nico hasnt – widen Mercs marketing reach. So unlike Alonso who doesnt read the game so well and misread ferrari, the fact that the contracts are continuing to drag on cannot be down to Merc as they have a choice of other drivers whereas Lewis doesnt have much choice.
Therefore if the party that have all the choices are not calling off the game it means they havent reached their limit on whatever the details I mentioned above are.
Ofcourse most people negotiate when they ar scare of been told to pee off, and panic , like the numerous articles on here about it. But calm people in the driving seat go on holiday, take time to respond, read long pages etc etc
When Merc turn around and say its ove then you can get your stick out an say ‘I told you so etc etc’
But till then thin of this – its dragging on but Merc have not got to the pee of stage – meaning they can afford whatever he is asking as he IS WORTH IT in marketing whatever terms
And talking about Nico he resigned his contract 6 months before it expired so Lewis still has a few months before you guys need to get the rope out and start looking for a good tree
You might not understand all this so apologies
I just love the repeated, “He’s not smart…” “He might be very smart…” jabs at Hamilton. More than a few F1 writers have averred that one of Hamilton’s best tricks is that people are convinced that he’s not smart, when, in fact, he’s quite intelligent. In-house, he scrutinizes his mechanics and engineers on a Senna level. Hamilton is also one of the few drivers who, like Seb, carries with him a notebook to record every new track and data/telemetry nuance. But hey, you guys keep thinking he’s stupid… while he smiles all the way to generational financial security, Brit F1 records and WDCs.
I think you are confusing judgement and intelligence. They are 2 different things, there are no ‘thick’ F1 drivers these days, you have to have a decent level of intellect and understanding to get the best from your car and yourself during the races. Lewis’s problem used to be his poor judgment on situations, “it is cos I’m black”, ‘that tweet’, the list goes on. He didn’t say these things because he has low intelligence, he did them because he had poor judgment and let his emotions get the better of him.
If Lewis is so thick, how come he timed his move from McLaren perfectly, he had no real contest from his ‘cerebral’ ‘highly intelligent’ team mate, on or off track.
This whole ‘Lewis is thick’ thing is getting so old and boring and is constantly being disproved.
Lastly, who exactly is he being compared to when its claimed he has a less than stellar intelligence level? Against Steven Hawkins, maybe he might look a bit sub par, but against say, Johnny Herbert, the guy looks like a freakin’ genius.
Still a-readin and a-figgerin…
you really think anyone is actually reading the whole contract and thats whats taking all these months? You probably believe it as well when you are told ‘the cheques in the post’ and ‘I promise not to come in your mouth’
The way that I look at it is if Lewis is meant to stay at Mercedes, his contract gets done and his is able to have success with Mercedes and grow his brand. He would have so many opportunities to do this being connected with Mercedes. The success would also help them as the brand evolves and grows with the times. One thing that is not mentioned much is that the Deimler board would be involved and have a say in the contract structure (i.e.: term, pay, incentives, etc.). They have to do what’s best for Mercedes-Benz. Ultimately, the team is a Mercedes team and are racing under the Mercedes-Benz motorsport umbrella. If Lewis leaves, there are options with Bottas and Pascal. At some point in the future, I can see Bottas and Pascal as teammates at Mercedes. Toto, Paddy, and Niki need to make sure that the people in Brackley and Brixworth enjoy doing their jobs and have a good work environment. They also make up the team and it’s success. If there are problems brewing, talk to them to find out what they are and address the problems promptly. Happy, productive workers/team members bring prosperity. Just look at how McLaren fell on difficult times when there was a steady exodus from Woking. Break the cycle and add to your talented workers constantly instead of just losing them to your competitors and being in a pickle when they leave. Yes, people sometimes need new challenges but make the transitions smooth ones so that the brain drain isn’t that noticable when the transition happens. Offer ways for the young workers to learn from the Jedi masters before they leave or retire. What Toto, Paddy, Niki, and Mercedes-Benz have built does not have to crumble or fade away after a couple of years and some personnel changes. Break the cycle and try and achieve long term success in the sport. It’s good for the brand and everyone in Brackley, Brixworth, and Stuttgart.
There’s a very simple (and historic) reason….but today being what it is (i.e. now) and being that we travel in PC times, I’ll leave you to work it out yourselves.