A significant breakthrough appears to have been made by Mercedes in their quest to retain Lewis Hamilton for next season.
The 35-year-old, who won a record-equalling seventh-consecutive Drivers' Championship in 2020, saw his existing contract expire at the end of last season.
In order to extend his relationship with the Silver Arrows, Hamilton reportedly had a long list of contractual demands that he wanted to be met.
Chief among these was a request that his salary, which is reportedly close to £40 million-a-year, remain unchanged.
That figure would see Hamilton continue as the highest-paid driver in F1 history. In addition, Hamilton is also seeking a 10% cut of all Mercedes' prize money going forward whilst he is employed with them.
If the Brackley-based team were to lift their eighth-straight Constructors' Championship in 2021, Hamilton would stand to pocket around £13 million, based on last season's prize pot.
These figures would not be altogether unrealistic under normal circumstances. However, Mercedes are facing harsh budget cuts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fact that the Hamilton contract saga has rumbled on now for nearly a year suggests that Mercedes simply are not in a position to meet his demands.
Team principal Toto Wolff insisted last month that he was confident of reaching an agreement with Hamilton:
"We are not worried about eventually getting it done...We are not putting a special date to it because we don't want to be under pressure.
"Sooner or later it needs to be done and, at the latest, before we go testing (ahead of the 2021 season)," stated Wolff.
With no progress having been made since those comments, time is now of the essence for Mercedes, with testing due to begin in just a few short weeks.
However, per express.co.uk, it appears that one of Mercedes' shareholders is set to step in and provide a solution.
Back in February last year, Mercedes announced a five-year sponsorship deal with multinational chemicals company INEOS.
That sponsorship has seen INEOS take on a one-third shareholding in the team - with Daimler and Wolff holding the remainder equally.
So keen is INEOS to retain Hamilton's services that they will reportedly cover a large portion of his new contract. Internally, there is now a belief that this news will lead to a new contract being signed shortly.
Hamilton has repeatedly stated in recent times that he has no plans to leave F1.
Seeking to overhaul Michael Schumacher to become the sole man to win eight Drivers' Championship titles, it seems that Mercedes and Hamilton will continue to work together after all.News Now - Sport News