A report in the British media suggests a possible reason for the ongoing delay over a renewal of Lewis Hamilton’s contract.
Hamilton’s current contract with Mercedes comes to an end at the conclusion of the 2023 season, Hamilton’s 11th consecutive season racing for the Brackley-based team.
While both Hamilton and Mercedes have indicated a desire to continue their relationship beyond this season, with the seven-time World Champion making it clear that he has no intentions of leaving the sport behind just yet, confirmation of the renewal is conspicuous in its absence.
Report suggests brand ambassador role is holding up new Mercedes contract
In recent weeks, team boss Toto Wolff has downplayed the serious nature of the talks with Hamilton, hinting that the extension was a mere formality and that the agreement could be reached in just a few days.
But, with another race weekend over and done with following Canada, and still no sign of a deal being reached, a report in the Daily Mail has suggested a possible reason for the delay.
While Hamilton’s contract is worth an alleged £27.5 million a year, some way off reigning World Champion Max Verstappen’s £43 million, the report suggests that Hamilton is seeking a new-long term deal that includes a title bonus of £15 million to be added to his pay as guaranteed income.
But pay isn’t the potential stumbling block, with the report suggesting that it’s the extraneous details that are holding up their renewal.
Their sources suggest a one-year deal is on the table, with the option for a second, while management are not prepared to agree to Hamilton’s demands to become a Mercedes brand ambassador on a 10-year deal to include the immediate years after his driving career ends.
The report suggests that both parties are eager to continue the relationship, but the pressure is on Hamilton to lower his demands.
Why wouldn’t Mercedes want Lewis Hamilton as a brand ambassador?
Recently, Lewis Hamilton was linked with a possible seat swap with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to see out his racing days driving for Maranello, with Leclerc leaving his post at the Scuderia to jump into Hamilton’s car.
Both were asked about the possibility, with the rumours quickly dismissed by both parties – Hamilton making it clear that his desire is to remain racing for Mercedes and to work with the manufacturer following his career.
“I plan on staying longer. It’s just not set in stone how long. I plan on staying with Mercedes for the rest of my life, that’s a definite,” he said at the end of 2022.
“It’s more figuring out what we are going to do down the line, even beyond racing I want to be building with Mercedes and there is a lot that Mercedes can do, it’s not just a car manufacturer.”
But what is causing the hold-up, if both Hamilton and Mercedes want to continue?
“We had a good meeting just recently. They’re very complex, contracts. So it’s not just a simple driving contract,” Hamilton said in Canada.
“I can’t tell you what I’m trying to put in my contract, but right now I’m focused mostly on planning to be here racing for still a decent chunk of time,” he said.
“You’ve just got to explore all avenues in the sense of how you can continue to expand your partnership with such a great organisation, and it’s not just as easy as ‘hey, let’s just go ahead.’ I don’t have to be in a rush.”
With Hamilton smashing records during his career to become the most successful F1 driver ever, he’s in the unique position of having done so entirely with Mercedes power. From his first days in the sport as a McLaren-Mercedes driver, the three-pointed star have provided the engines, and later the entire team, with which Hamilton has dominated the sport.
Indelibly linked to the point of eponymity with Mercedes as a result, the suggestions that the powers-that-be wouldn’t be eager to continue with him as a brand ambassador don’t make much sense.
After all, two-time World Champion Mika Hakkinen served as a long-term Mercedes brand ambassador following the end of his career, while David Coulthard, 15 years on from the end of his racing career, remains a brand ambassador for both Mercedes and Red Bull Racing.
Outside of the cockpit, the Hamilton Commission served as direct inspiration for Mercedes’ own diversity programme ‘Accelerate 25’ – a scheme that aims to see at least 25% of new employees coming from a minority background – as well as launching a motorsport scholarship programme at the Royal Academy of Engineering in association with Hamilton’s Mission44 charity.
Given the close ties between Hamilton and Mercedes on such progressive and forward-thinking initiatives, as well as the astonishing success that the two parties have enjoyed together, why on earth wouldn’t there be a desire to maintain the link even once Hamilton hangs up his helmet?