‘Pretty cold’ Toto Wolff avoided a ‘big problem’ with Lewis Hamilton’s extension

Michelle Foster
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton speaking with Toto Wolff.

Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from the U.S GP after his W14 failed a post-race inspection.

Opting to re-sign with Mercedes instead of taking up surfing, Nico Rosberg believes Lewis Hamilton’s latest extension will have come as a relief to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

After last year when Wolff confirmed Hamilton in an 11th-hour deal almost on the eve of pre-season testing, the Briton extending for two years, this year Wolff was determined to get 2024’s contract negotiations done early.

It was not to be.

Lewis Hamilton quitting would’ve been a ‘big problem’ for Mercedes

Although he said back in January that it was only a matter of time, time dragged on until the very last of August when Mercedes announced Hamilton would be staying for a further two years.

That will bring his time with the team to 13 years, the longest driver-team partnership ever in Formula 1.

It’s also been one of the most successful with Hamilton and Mercedes winning six Drivers’ Championship titles and seven Constructors’ crowns.

And while today they are finding it a lot more difficult given Red Bull’s dominance, Rosberg says Wolff would’ve been relieved to finally get the 38-year-old signature down on a new contract.

“I think just stability, calmness because it always leads to uncertainty even in the leadership, ‘Ah Lewis has not signed yet’,” he told Sky Sports.

“It puts stress, stress because what if Lewis suddenly decides, ‘I actually prefer to go surfing at the beach’?

“That would be a big problem then.

“So it does put stress, especially probably on someone like Toto, even though he wouldn’t show it because he’s an incredible, incredibly good negotiator, and pretty cold, but inside it certainly put stress.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 driver contracts: What is the current contract status of every driver on the 2023 grid?

F1 2023 driver salaries revealed: How much do Formula 1 drivers make?

Toto Wolff blamed ‘marketing’ for the hold-up

Hamilton’s new Mercedes contract is reportedly worth £50m per season, a nice pay cheque if ever there was.

But while there had been reports that was initially what led to the hold-up in negotiations, Wolff refuted that and blamed marketing.

“Lewis and I were clear on the major terms in June, July,” the Austrian said. “Things were just dribbling along. Bubbling along slowly. Then it was summer break.”

“In the end, it was about marketing – not really the big relevant topics. That took a bit of time.”

Former F1 driver David Coulthard had previously floated this theory, saying that Hamilton “will be signing up for goes way beyond him driving at a grand prix” as it also related to PR commitments and image rights.

Of the latter, the Scot said: “It is about what rights he retains in terms of his image, and what rights he sells to the team.

“Mercedes are buying more than just Lewis’ driving services. They are buying his promotional image and his PR image.”

Read next: Guenther Steiner addresses rumours of $900m legal action against Gene Haas