Hamilton playing Mercedes ‘poker’ with new deal

Jamie Woodhouse

Is Lewis Hamilton playing “poker” with Mercedes over a new contract because of how reliant they are on him?

Well, that’s the opinion of Formula 1 pundit Marc Surer.

Hamilton’s contract with the Silver Arrows is up at the end of the season, and with the campaign now well past the halfway point the six-time World Champion is yet to sign a new deal.

Having won five of his six World Championships with Mercedes, while he is now closing in on title number seven, being anywhere other than Mercedes for Hamilton would seem like career suicide.

The Mercs are untouchable right now, arguably hitting new heights of dominance in the turbo-hybrid era, and with the new rules now delayed until 2022 it’s very difficult to see Hamilton not winning a record eighth World Championship if he stays with Mercedes for 2021.

Team boss Toto Wolff has said that the delay is simply down to the fact that both parties haven’t had the time to sit down and discuss a new deal, but in the meantime rumours have started to crop up, such as a possible move to Red Bull for Hamilton.

By Wolff’s admission that wouldn’t make much sense, but Surer thinks Hamilton is simply playing “poker” because he knows Mercedes have no alternative.

“He can afford to play poker,” he said on Sport1, as quoted by Formel1.de.

“Who else are they supposed to take instead of him? The team depends on him, the team has to wait for him.

“We’ve seen Verstappen beat Bottas a couple of times this year, but beating Lewis Hamilton is a lot harder. That means Mercedes are dependent on Lewis and that’s why he doesn’t have to hurry.”

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Wolff has said already that Hamilton needs to make a decision before the end of the year.

“It must be this season. You can’t start a new year without knowing what your driver line-up is,” he told Channel 4.

“Having said that, I’m pretty sure it’s going to continue like it is.

“With the intensity of this season we just didn’t have the time to spend the day properly with each other because you want to recover in those days between.

“We keep it pretty loose, and at a certain stage we’ve already said we’ve got to sit down and take the old contract out that we haven’t looked at since three years ago and say ‘okay, what do we want to change in that?’”

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