F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says there are “no stumbling blocks” this time around with Lewis Hamilton’s contract but said some agreements are taking a “few days longer”.
Lengthy contract negotiations last season ended in February this year after months of speculation regarding the seven-time world champion’s commitment at the team for 2021, with Hamilton admitting it “ruined” his winter.
Eventually, it was announced he would be re-signing on a one-year deal, not thanks to delays like Hamilton testing positive for COVID-19, as well as normal contract discussions like both driver and team having to agree on the length of the contract, and things such as a set number of appearances for the media and partners per year.
It was announced, however, that Hamilton was also keen to create a joint charitable foundation with Mercedes to “improve diversity in Formula One”.
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This season, both Hamilton and Wolff were adamant they wanted to get talks sorted earlier, with the reigning world champion setting a deadline of the summer break for Mercedes.
Wolff, who had previously suggested the 36-year-old would sign a multi-year deal with the team, told Sky Sports F1 that talks were progressing well.
He said: “[We are] pretty laid back because it’s going well, we are discussing there are no stumbling blocks, it’s just about agreements, something that takes a few days longer.
“So yeah, good talks.”
The Mercedes 2022 line-up has been the topic of much discussion this season, with some suggesting Valtteri Bottas’ time alongside Hamilton is coming to an end, and that George Russell will be replacing the Finn next year.
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Yet, ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix, Hamilton shocked the media by saying there was no need to switch up his team-mate next season with rumours swirling.
He said: “We have begun discussions, and, not a lot to say – just we have had discussions and things are positive so… and yes, Valtteri is my team-mate now, and both of us have had ups and downs in our careers, but as I said he is a fantastic team-mate and I don’t necessarily think that needs to change.”
And Wolff added that team-mate talk wasn’t on the cards during discussions.
“No, we have never discussed preferences about line-ups,” continued Wolff to Sky Sports.
“That is never something that is part of his thinking.
Wolff recently played a trick on the media, after suggesting he could delay making a 2022 driver choice until the winter.
Yet the Austrian admitted it was a windup “because you get asked this question so, so often”, concluding: “I don’t know [when it will be announced], I just said the winter because it might take as long as the winter but I doubt it.”
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