Spending time together recently for Sky F1 filming, Martin Brundle thought Sir Lewis Hamilton seemed “grumpy” and less than thrilled about his contract talks with Mercedes.
Hamilton has signed a new one-year deal with the seven-time World Champions as he targets an eighth individual title of his own in 2021.
Pre-season testing in Bahrain was only a matter of weeks away when the contract agreement was announced, and Mercedes F1 team principal and co-owner Toto Wolff suggested a lack of negotiating opportunity and time was the reason for just the one-year duration.
However, Hamilton, at the launch of the W12 car, simply said he did not want to look too far ahead as he enters his 15th campaign in the sport at the age of 36.
Brundle, speaking during a Sky F1 testing preview, found from his own experience of being in Hamilton’s company recently that the World Champion was not on top form psychologically as the new season approaches.
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“We did a couple of features with him that we will play out through the year on Sky F1,” explained Brundle.
“He was very generous but a bit grumpy actually, I thought generally. It’s interesting that his right-hand man, Marc Hynes, is no longer working with him.
“I sensed he possibly wasn’t super-happy with the way the negotiations have worked out at Mercedes.”
The Sky F1 co-commentator said Hamilton also expressed reservations about how easily he would achieve the two more pole positions he needs to notch up a century.
Brundle added: “Once we got over that, I did say to him ‘you’re going to burst through 100 poles this year at some point, most likely’ and he went ‘why?’
“‘McLaren were a quarter of a second behind us in Abu Dhabi, now they’ve got our engine; what about Red Bull, maybe the high rake works; and don’t count out Ferrari, and the Aston Martin will be strong’.
“He sort of really challenged me quite hard and I said ‘well, you have got 98 of them, mostly in the hybrid era, you scored 10 last year – there’s half a chance you’ll get two more this year’.
“But when we got over that little hurdle – because Lewis does love to poke you a little bit before you sit down to do stuff like that – I had an hour with him talking about that amazing race in Istanbul last year when he took his seventh World title and he was very generous on inside his head, inside his life of a grand prix weekend and how qualifying unfolds.”