‘Living like hermits’ delaying Hamilton contract

Jon Wilde
Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton

Toto Wolff has claimed that social distancing because of the global health pandemic is another factor delaying Lewis Hamilton’s new contract.

The Mercedes team principal insists he has “no concern” about the respective drivers’ and constructors’ World Champions remaining together, even though Hamilton has yet to formally commit his future beyond this season.

Hamilton said earlier this year that the worldwide economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic has made him think about whether signing a new big-money deal is morally the right thing to do.

He has also cast doubt over how long he wants to remain in F1, although the 35-year-old said before the Portuguese Grand Prix, which he won to set a new record of 92 race victories in the sport, that he “plans to be here next year” – potentially to try and surpass another of Michael Schumacher’s benchmarks by capturing an eighth drivers’ title.

Wolff, talking to the BBC, stressed that the protocols to which Mercedes are adhering have made it more difficult to sit down and conduct face-to-face talks about matters such as contracts.

The Austrian said he had been in Monaco, where Hamilton lives, before the race in Portugal but had decided it was too risky to hold a meeting.

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“If an asteroid hits the world, anything can happen,” said Wolff. “But at the moment, there is no reason why he wouldn’t want to be in the quickest car and we want him in the car, so it’s a perfect match. Where we stand today is that everyone has the will to continue.

“The situation is very simple, and I know there are some conspiracy theories in F1, but with Lewis and I, we are living like hermits and our team is particularly disciplined.

“We have another 11 cars for our staff, we are not allowing more than two people to have dinner together, the seven or eight system-relevant people are not allowed to socialise with each other and the drivers are the most exposed.

“I was in Monaco last week and we decided not to meet because the worst that could happen is me dragging corona into our meeting.

“So it simply wasn’t the time to sit down and meet. I hope we can finish the next couple of races on a high and then concentrate on the contract.”

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