Why did it take so long for the Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes contract confirmation to come through, given both sides wanted to continue?
Despite having maintained all year that they wanted to continue working together, it took until last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton to finalise the contract details to keep the seven-time World Champion at the wheel of one of their cars in 2024.
Given that both Hamilton and Mercedes had indicated wanting to continue their partnership, why did it take so long to firm it up to the point of getting the deal across the line?
Toto Wolff reveals when Lewis Hamilton deal came together
Earlier in the summer, it was rumoured that one sticking point was that Hamilton was chasing an ambassadorial role with the Mercedes brand for when his F1 racing career comes to an end – an assertion Toto Wolff had denied.
The delay situation allowed for rumours to spiral, including one where Hamilton was linked with a possible seat switch with Charles Leclerc at Ferrari – no doubt a useful bargaining chip for Hamilton as the negotiations dragged on.
Speaking to media, including PlanetF1.com, during the Italian Grand Prix weekend, the Austrian was asked about whether Hamilton’s new two-year deal had been one of the toughest the two sides had had to negotiate.
“No. No, it wasn’t,” he said, before revealing when the two parties had reached an agreement.
“I think Lewis and I were clear on the major terms in June, July,” he continued.
“Then it just… things were just dribbling along… bubbling along slowly! Then it was summer break.”
Why did Lewis Hamilton deal take so long to be finalised?
But while things were proceeding slowly, what were the main contract hold-ups that prevented the deal from being agreed sooner?
“In the end, it was things about marketing – not really the big relevant topics,” Wolff said. “That took a bit of time.”
Obviously reluctant to reveal too much detail, Wolff made a joke about how slowly the lawyers taking care of the contract negotiations had been working as being the other contributing factor.
“Sometimes with lawyers, they will actually play ping pong,” he said.
“I mean, I was obviously splendid, but the other side wasn’t!”