Lewis Hamilton contract: 'Max Verstappen clause' update given by Toto Wolff

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After plenty of speculation and intrigue regarding his next move, Lewis Hamilton finally put to pen paper yesterday on a one-year Mercedes deal for the 2021 season.

With Hamilton occasionally questioning at times last season how long he has left in the sport, and with the contract unsigned, there was some doubt before yesterday’s announcement on where his future may lay.

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, explained why this is initially only a one-year deal and how the uncertainties that have arose, from the COVID-19 pandemic and the rule changes, are major factors in the deal being a short one.

“First of all there is a substantial regulations change in 2022,” he said, as per GrandPrix247. “We also want to see how the world develops and the company.

“Because we kept it very late, we wanted to discuss the contract at the end of the season between the Bahrain races, and then Lewis obviously didn’t feel well. At the end we started out negotiation conversation just before Christmas.

“It was important to get it done as soon as possible and, in that respect, we thought let’s postpone the discussion about 2022 an onwards to a later stage in 2021.

“There are uncertainties in the world that affect the way the sport can operate that have an influence on our revenue, on TV monies, on sponsorship income. Daimler and Mercedes are in a huge transformation towards electric mobility and that means investments. So, we are living in a financial reality that is very different to what it was a few years ago.

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“But having said that we are totally in line, Lewis and me and the wider group in Mercedes, about this situation. So, there was never any discrepancy in opinion. It was just that we felt we’ve got to put signature on the 2021 contact because we need to get going and then find some time during 2021, earlier than this time around, to discuss the future.

“And it’s not only specifically to 2022 but also beyond and that is not something that we wanted to carve out via videoconferencing between Christmas and the end of January."

Max Verstappen Clause Rumours

The rumours around the so called ‘Verstappen clause’, whereby Hamilton would have the power to veto any new driver that could drive alongside him as a teammate, were also put to bed by Wolff.

“On the specific clauses that were out there in the media, I don’t know where that came from because none of that is true,” Wolff added.

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“I actually read about this, I found it an interesting perspective, but the truth is there was not a second of discussion about any driver-specific clause. He has never asked for that in the last eight years and it’s a team decision.”

Hamilton over the past year has given mixed messages regarding his long-term future in the sport so it will be interesting to see whether Wolff and Hamilton do start their discussions earlier this time around or whether this actually may be his final year in the sport.

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