Martin Brundle suspects Max Verstappen influence on Lewis Hamilton contract

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, shake hands. Hungary, July 2023.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, shake hands post-qualifying. Hungary, July 2023.

Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle suspects Lewis Hamilton chasing financial parity with Max Verstappen will have been an aim for his new Mercedes contract.

The saga finally came to an end when ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Mercedes announced that Hamilton had signed a new two-year contract to commit him to the team until the end of 2025.

Mercedes also confirmed that Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell had signed a new deal of the same length.

Lewis Hamilton will value himself at the same as Max Verstappen

It is Hamilton’s former title rival Verstappen who had pulled clear in the driver salary category, with his Red Bull contract reportedly pocketing him $55 million per season, equating to €50.7m.

It was then put to Brundle by Sky presenter Craig Slater that as per his sources, Hamilton’s new deal carries a salary of around €50m a year, so Brundle was asked if he does believe Hamilton will now be getting paid as much as Verstappen?

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

“It will be a number of 10s of millions plus bonuses and other things. I would imagine Lewis has been and his team have been sort of dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s of all kinds of things, sort of in the car and out of the car and away from the track, things he wants to do.

“He will have been fighting like crazy to do almost no media and no marketing if he can get away with it. And all the things that he doesn’t particularly like doing. He just wants to drive the racing car of course. So the power balance changes a little bit.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

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

F1 points all-time rankings: Where do Hamilton, Verstappen and Alonso feature?

This new deal then gives Hamilton two further shots at securing a record-breaking eighth World title, Brundle believing this is the major motivation for Hamilton to continue, claiming the widespread belief was that Hamilton would have retired after the 2021 season had he have clinched title number eight in Abu Dhabi.

“I think it’s very much driving him yes,” said Brundle.

“And there are many who believe that had he have won the eighth title in Abu Dhabi 2021, he would have retired.

“So I think it’s a big driving force for him to leave the championship tally at eight or more.”

Martin Brundle surprised at equal Mercedes contract durations

With Hamilton and Russell now tied down until the end of 2025, while this is a boost for Mercedes in the short term, Brundle did express his surprise that the team have created a situation where both driver contracts are up for renewal at the same time.

It is come 2026 where Formula 1 will undergo its next major revamp, with the introduction of new regulations and the next generation of power units.

“The team have also announced George Russell is staying in the other car to the end of 2025,” Brundle added. “Unusual to have both your drivers out of contract at the same time.

“The new engines come in 2026, but we don’t know what other clauses and options are in those contracts.”

Bringing it back to the current F1 2023 campaign, securing P2 in the Constructors’ Championship is now the best that Mercedes can realistically do, the Brackley squad currently holding that position with an advantage of 40 points over Aston Martin a position behind.

Read next: George Russell’s shock pick to be his F1 team-mate after Lewis Hamilton