Thursday, December 2News That Matters

Toto Wolff says Mercedes ‘must be ready for all kinds of curveballs’ with Lewis Hamilton yet to sign

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says his team must be ready ‘for all kinds of curveballs’ as Lewis Hamilton‘s contract situation lingers on, with just two months to go until the start of the new season.  

Hamilton smashed the competition as he roared to his seventh Formula One title in 2020, to equal the record of Michael Schumacher.

The 36-year-old could surpass the Ferrari legend’s total this season, though he is still yet to sign a new deal to race for the Mercedes team.

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed arguably his most dominant season in 2020 as he romped to the title

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed arguably his most dominant season in 2020 as he romped to the title

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed arguably his most dominant season in 2020 as he romped to the title

However his future in the sport has not been guaranteed as he is still to sign a 2021 contract

However his future in the sport has not been guaranteed as he is still to sign a 2021 contract

However his future in the sport has not been guaranteed as he is still to sign a 2021 contract

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the team need to be ready for any 'curveballs'

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the team need to be ready for any 'curveballs'

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the team need to be ready for any ‘curveballs’

But his boss Wolff, has told Autosport that he is not worried about the prospect of Hamilton quitting the sport.

He said: ‘It doesn’t worry me at all, because I will always respect Lewis’s decisions.

‘Whether this is staying with us for a long time, or whether that means leaving the sport and pursuing different interests. I think we need to be ready for all kinds of curveballs being thrown at us.

‘But at the same time, we talk a lot, and we are very transparent with each other. I think there is more to achieve together.’

Mercedes and Hamilton are in discussions about putting together a new contract, with the previous deal having come to its conclusion at the end of the 2020 season.

Hamilton originally intended to stay on for a further three seasons, but sources close to Sportsmail in December indicated that he is contemplating signing a one or two-year deal.

The situation with Hamilton’s contract hinges on whether Mercedes can accommodate his demands of £40million plus a year – a pay-rise from the £35m he had previously been on.

Having been the highest-earning driver in the sport, Hamilton stands to be the hardest hit if plans by the Formula One Commission to introduce a salary cap come to fruition in the future.

Hamilton has won six titles and 74 races in his seven-year stint with Mercedes up until now

Hamilton has won six titles and 74 races in his seven-year stint with Mercedes up until now

Hamilton has won six titles and 74 races in his seven-year stint with Mercedes up until now

It would mean every team’s two drivers would have to share a salary pot of £22m a year, and could come into effect as early as 2023.  

In December, British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, boss of petrochemicals giant Ineos, acquired a one-third share in the world championship-winning team 

The decision over Hamilton’s contract will be down to Ratcliffe,  parent company Daimler who have cut back its stake from 60 per cent and team principal Toto Wolff, who has increased his share from 30 per cent. Each now holds a 33 per cent part of the business.

There are ten weeks to go until the start of the season which is currently scheduled to take place in Australia – though there are talks that race could be postponed due to Covid-19.

Hamilton said in December that  he plans to still be part of the Mercedes team this season

In December, Mercedes released a post on their Twitter page, saying that the contract announcement was due soon.

Hamilton said in the post: ‘I plan to be here. I want to be here. I think we as a team have more to do together and more to achieve, both in the sport but even more outside of it.’

Six titles and 74 of his wins have come at Mercedes after his move from McLaren back in 2013.  

The 36-year-old has enjoyed a successful off-season since the end of the last campaign, in which he has been awarded a knighthood as well as the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year prize.

Hamilton's contract decision will be up to Sir Jim Ratcliffe, parent company Deimler and Wolff

Hamilton's contract decision will be up to Sir Jim Ratcliffe, parent company Deimler and Wolff

Hamilton’s contract decision will be up to Sir Jim Ratcliffe, parent company Deimler and Wolff