Lewis Hamilton pens new Mercedes deal as Max Verstappen link made – F1 news round-up

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, smile. Spain, June 2023.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, smile on the podium. Spain, June 2023.

Buckle up, because media Thursday ahead of the Italian Grand Prix proved to be quite the day for Formula 1 news!

At last, Lewis Hamilton has put pen to paper on a fresh Mercedes contract, as did team-mate George Russell, while it is claimed that a salary rivalling Max Verstappen’s will have been on the agenda for Hamilton in this new deal.

Let us then dive into the thick of the action…

Lewis Hamilton staying with Mercedes

The saga is now over, Hamilton will remain a Mercedes Formula 1 driver after signing until the end of 2025, while Russell has also committed to the same length of deal.

The Mercedes driver line-up then is confirmed for the coming two seasons.

Read more: Finally! Lewis Hamilton signs new Mercedes contract extension

Max Verstappen salary a benchmark for Lewis Hamilton?

When analysing this major news for Sky Sports F1, it was put to Martin Brundle by Craig Slater that according to his sources, Hamilton’s salary for this new Mercedes deal is around €50 million, compared to Verstappen’s reported Red Bull salary of €50.7m.

Slater then sought clarity from Brundle on whether he believes Hamilton would actually now be on equal financial terms to his former title rival Verstappen, Brundle suggesting that achieving this would likely have been on Hamilton’s mind in negotiations.

“I’m sure he would be asking for that kind of number,” Brundle suggested. “He will value himself at the same as Max as a seven-time World Champion. And he knows he’s still got the speed.”

Read more: Martin Brundle suspects Max Verstappen influence on Lewis Hamilton contract

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F1 team principals: How long has each team boss been in charge?

Christian Horner talks “short-termist” rival F1 team bosses

Red Bull boss Horner is the longest-serving team principal on the Formula 1 grid, having been at the helm of the Austrian outfit since they arrived back in 2005.

It is safe to say a lot has changed since the times Horner was sharing the F1 space with big personalities like Bernie Ecclestone, Max Mosley, Jean Todt, Ron Dennis and Flavio Briatore, with Horner identifying a major shift in the profile of team boss generally seen in the series these days.

“I had the privilege of seeing up close how some legendary leaders were operating when I first came into the sport,” he exclusively told PlanetF1.com. “Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley were running the business very tightly.

“But then there was Ron Dennis, there was Jean Todt, there was Flavio Briatore. Big personalities, big characters.

“I suppose the difference between now and then is that they were all quite entrepreneurial, and they thought of the bigger picture whereas now you see a bunch of managers in the room that are very short termist, who only focus on their little area.”

Read moreExclusive: Christian Horner takes aim at ‘short-termist’ nature of rival F1 team principals

Liam Lawson reveals support from Daniel Ricciardo

Lawson has been a driver on the tip of the tongue for Red Bull for quite some time now, on several occasions deemed unlucky by some to have been overlooked for an AlphaTauri seat, but now Ricciardo’s unfortunate injury has opened that door.

The Kiwi will likely feel far more prepared this weekend when heading into action at Monza, having very much been thrown in at the deep end for his debut at the Dutch Grand Prix.

But, eight-time grand prix winner Ricciardo did play his part in helping his temporary replacement.

“Daniel being the amazing guy that he is, he was super supportive,” Lawson exclusively told PlanetF1.com.

“Basically before he left to go have surgery, he was still on the track and he was very supportive.

“He told me to make the most it and if I needed any help then to ask him. He was very, very good about it.”

Read moreExclusive: What Daniel Ricciardo told Liam Lawson ahead of shock F1 debut

Lando Norris further fuels Red Bull speculation

McLaren and Norris have been ascending up the Formula 1 pecking order in F1 2023, with a return to the title scene, which Red Bull currently has on lockdown, the key goal for McLaren.

But, despite Norris repeatedly stating his continued commitment to McLaren, where he is contracted until the end of 2025, the links to Red Bull just will not go away, re-energised by advisor Helmut Marko’s recent reveal that he could foresee Norris as a future team-mate to Verstappen.

And this is a partnership which Norris very much would like to see happen down the line. While Norris once more extended the invitation for Verstappen to come to McLaren, realistically of course a Verstappen-Norris pairing would need to come together at Red Bull.

Norris told media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher at Monza: “It’s definitely something I would be open to in the future. I think I can happily say that Max is probably one of the best drivers ever in the history of Formula 1.”

Read moreLando Norris opens door wide open to dream Max Verstappen partnership

Sergio Perez explains “odd” pace gap to Toto Wolff

It is safe to say that Perez, like his predecessors, is having a rough time of things as Verstappen’s team-mate, the Mexican racer constantly battling questions over his Red Bull future, despite their insistence he will at least see out the final year of his contract for 2024.

The deficit which Perez faces to Verstappen is though growing increasingly alarming, not only in terms of the 138 points which separate them in the standings, but also in regards to the sheer performance difference at times, with Mercedes boss Wolff calling it “bizarre” when Verstappen qualified 1.3 seconds faster than Perez at the Dutch GP.

Perez then offered some clarity to Wolff on how such a gap came to be.

“How it was in Zandvoort, it was mainly getting the conditions right and exploring everything out of the car – and the differences if you don’t get the conditions right, you will see a big delta, so it’s how it works sometimes,” Perez told media including PlanetF1.com. “We’ve seen with other drivers those sorts of gaps.”

Read moreSergio Perez offers explanation to Toto Wolff over ‘odd’ Max Verstappen gap

Read nextLewis Hamilton: FIA reeling in Red Bull with new rule would be ‘good for the sport’