Wolff has no idea where ‘Max clause’ came from

Date published: February 9 2021

Toto Wolff Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says talk of Lewis Hamilton wanting a team-mate clause in his contract was not true.

The rumours had rolled on for months, but finally Mercedes have struck a new one-year contract for Hamilton to remain with the team for the 2021 campaign.

It was an announcement that felt well overdue with pre-season testing only a little over a month away, and reports had started to surface suggesting that confirmation was being delayed by a clause that would give Hamilton a say over his 2022 team-mate, dubbed the ‘Verstappen clause’.

But Wolff has no idea where this came from, saying that clause and the rumour that Hamilton was wanting a share of the Mercedes team’s earnings were both untrue.

“On the specific clauses that were out there in the media, I don’t know where that came from because none of that is true,” he told various media outlets.

“I actually read about this, I found it an interesting perspective, but the truth is there was not a second of discussion about any driver-specific clause. He has never asked for that in the last eight years and it’s a team decision.

“The other clause about a revenue split or revenue share… that rumour was baseless too, so none of that was ever part of our discussions.”

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The other interesting part about the contract is that it ties Hamilton down for only one year. Wolff said that was due to a combination of factors, including Daimler’s future direction in the automotive industry, time constraints caused by the pandemic and the new regulations which will come into Formula 1 for 2022.

“First of all there is a substantial regulations change in 2022, we also want to see how the world develops and the company,” Wolff explained.

“Because we kept it very late, we wanted to discuss the contract at the end of the season between the Bahrain races, and then Lewis obviously didn’t feel well. At the end we started out negotiation conversation just before Christmas.

“It was important to get it done as soon as possible and in that respect we thought let’s postpone the discussion about 2022 and onwards to a later stage in 2021.

“There are uncertainties in the world that affect the way the sport can operate that have an influence on our revenue, on TV monies, on sponsorship income. Daimler and Mercedes are in a huge transformation towards electric mobility and that means investments. So we are living in a financial reality that is very different to what it was a few years ago.

“But having said that we are totally in line, Lewis and me and the wider group in Mercedes, about this situation. So there was never any discrepancy in opinion. It was just that we felt we’ve got to put signature on the 2021 contact because we need to get going and then find some time during 2021, earlier than this time around, to discuss the future.

“And it’s not only specifically to 2022 but also beyond and that is not something that we wanted to carve out via videoconferencing between Christmas and the end of January.”

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