At the Spanish Grand Prix Mercedes boss Toto Wolff claimed he would most likely be announcing in Montreal that Lewis Hamilton had signed his new driving contract with Mercedes. Wolff appears to have lost control of this process since he first declared in January it would take a “few hours” to resolve before the “white smoke” signalled a deal had been completed.
Hamilton’s management team then ‘leaked’ a report to Fortune in February suggesting Lewis was looking for a minimum two year deal with his current £20m a year bonus for winning a world championship converted into guaranteed remuneration.
Hamilton refuses to leave F1 with 8th title
The most surprising aspect of the report was the intention from Hamilton to become a Mercedes brand ambassador for a guaranteed ten years for a reputed £22m a year.
Then during a feature on Sky F1 where Hamilton took a “lie detector test”, Simon Lazenby asked him whether he would stay in F1 until he claimed the fabled eight world championship. Lewis replied “Yes” and was deemed by the moderator to be telling the truth.
It is highly unlikely Mercedes will be able to offer Hamilton a car capable of achieving the historic with title until at least 2026 when the next big rule change from the FIA begins.
Mercedes only offering 1 year deal
This fits with Lewis’ five year timeline he suggested back in Austin last year.
Yet the Sun newspaper recently reported Mercedes were only prepared to consider a one year deal for Hamilton which would free them up to approach Charles Leclerc next year as his Ferrari contract comes to an end.
Of course Mercedes’ can dress up their one year offer as a two yer deal with options. In effect this is a guaranteed one year with both parties allowed to opt in to a second year if they so wish.
Brand ambassador role creating problems
However this is a far cry from the deal Hamilton was hoping to broker.
Yet the real sticking point to the contract is an impossible demand being made by Hamilton’s side of the negotiations. This is the ten year brad ambassador role Lewis is seeking from Mercedes.
Only the board Stuttgart, the HQ of Mercedes road car manufacturing operations, can agree to this and it appears there is no appetite for this kind of financial spend.
Has Hamilton lost his hunger?
Mercedes now own just one third of the F1 team and could easily sell their share and the team be renamed by the new owners during the next decade.
Further despite being a profitable outfit, for the Mercedes F1 team to commit to a ten year ambassador deal worth up to $300m dollars is a stretch by anyone’s imagination.
Lewis Hamilton’s team may believe he does not have the hunger that Fernando Alonso has now in his 41st year. Alonso has spent his life chasing the elusive third world title while Hamilton has cruised to a number of his during the years when Mercedes F1 crushed all before them.
Stuttgart CEO involved in discussions
Hamilton revealed in Montreal that his new contract was now in all probability another month away and F1 driver Ralph Schumacher believes this is because of the nature of Hamilton’s demands.
Now Mercedes CEO, Ola Kallenius, who is based in Stuttgart has been drawn into the matter.
“Lewis will not drive forever,” Schumacher told Sport1, “but he wants to stay connected to his motorsport home Mercedes after his career as well.
“However, Toto Wolff cannot negotiate such a long-term contract. That is Kallenius’ area of responsibility. That’s why it can still take a while yet.”
Hamilton admits not just a “driver contract”
As TJ13 reported it is the ‘impossible’ demand of the brand ambassador role his team cannot guarantee and Lewis confirmed this in Montreal.
“It’s more complicated than usual because it’s not just a simple driver contract,” Hamilton revealed to assembled press.
Given the 6 months Leis Hamilton’s new contract has been under negotiation there is clearly a problem which only the Mercedes board in Stuttgart can approve and the extensive delay would suggest they are not prepared to sanction Hamilton’s demand.
And *breathe* 😮💨
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 17, 2023