Lewis Hamilton has certainly had a busy few months.
The 35-year-old claimed his fourth-consecutive F1 Drivers’ Championship in 2020 and was selected as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December.
Hamilton’s biggest accomplishment of recent times, though, is being awarded a knighthood in The Queen’s 2021 New Year’s Honours List.
One thing that Hamilton has not yet done, however, is sign a new contract with Mercedes.
Per express.co.uk, Hamilton has been in talks with the Brackley-based team for much of the year over a new deal, but have been unable to come to terms.
The 2020 season was a successful one for Mercedes, as they took 15 wins and 13 pole positions on route to a record seventh-successive Constructors’ Championship.
According to the Italian arm of Motorsport, Hamilton wants a cut of future Mercedes success if he is to extend his relationship with his current employer.
Hamilton’s deal with Mercedes expired at the end of last season – and the Brit reportedly has a list of four demands that he wants to be met as part of any new contract.
Firstly, Hamilton has requested a pay rise that would see him earn a whopping £35.5 million per year; the highest salary in all of F1.
More controversially, though, Hamilton also wants a 10% share of Mercedes prize money should the side lift an eighth-straight title. Based on the 2020 pot, this would amount to a £13 million windfall for Hamilton.
He has also asked that Mercedes gift him one of their upcoming, limited-production AMG One cars. A limited-run of 250 of the two-door coupes, which will feature F1-derived technology, are set to be produced – and Hamilton wants one to be set aside for him.
Finally, Hamilton also wants to be guaranteed a ‘hands-on’ role with the team, helping them in making the electric transition. Reports suggest that Hamilton expects this to be more than just a figurehead-type position.
On their own, none of these demands would seem too unreasonable. However, as a package, they may be seen as excessive by the management of the Silver Arrows – particularly for a driver who likely does not have many years left in the sport.
A key tool for Mercedes in these negotiations appears to be the name of George Russell. The 22-year-old stepped in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix late last year, when Hamilton was forced to isolate due to COVID-19.
The 22-year-old clearly impressed, appearing on course to win the race until pit stop and tyre issues wrecked his chances. Russell is under contract to Williams for 2021, but Mercedes believe that they could do a late deal for him to return – if Hamilton chooses to walk away. The team manages Russell and so would have a major say over where he races next season.
There is still great optimism that an agreement can be reached for Hamilton to continue at Mercedes, but a tense period of negotiation clearly lies ahead.