They do not call the Formula 1 driver market ‘silly season’ for nothing.
Each season is capped with a customary game of musical chairs, where drivers at the end of their contracts battle it out with up-and-coming talent to secure one of the lucrative 20 seats.
Each driver is looking over their shoulder to see who might replace them, viewers of Netflix Drive to Survive will have seen first-hand how emotionally draining this entire process can be.
One driver everyone considered to be extremely secure in their seat was 7-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The fast Brit was fresh from dominating the delayed 2020 season, winning an incredible 11 of the 17 races.
The sport’s most famous face seemed to be extremely happy in the fastest car on the grid and many saw his contract negotiations as a simple formality.
Despite this, Mercedes and Lewis left it late to announce their mutual agreement, with confirmation of the new contract not being given until February, weeks before the start of the new season.
The reasons for this delay? Well, there is plenty of speculation and excuses coming from both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
Talks were supposed to begin before the season started but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for the parties to meet face to face and have constructive conversations about the future.
Hamilton is then alleged to have put off any contract talks while the season resumed, preferring to focus fully on winning his joint-record seventh world drivers’ championship.
Even after Lewis had blown everyone away, talks were disrupted further when the holder of the record number of wins in F1 history was struck down with COVID-19.
It was in all of this craziness that press speculation began to swirl over the potential Hamilton leaving Formula 1.
Some pointed to his successful business ventures outside the sport. With a clothing line with Tommy Hilfiger and a potential singing career, many questioned whether Lewis still had the drive and desire to win another Formula 1 title.
Rumours only got stronger when Lewis was side-lined for one race through COVID-19. Mercedes drafted in talented protégé George Russell who managed to beat all the odds and lead the Sakhir Grand Prix before a tyre mix-up forced him out of contention.
Many claimed that the availability of a replacement talent like Russell and Lewis’s supposed lack of motivation meant that this was the perfect time for the seven-time world champion to leave the sport.
There was another reason for the delay. Most teams in the F1 paddock had recently let go of staff due to a lack of revenue from COVID.
With Hamilton being the highest-paid driver on the grid, by a huge margin, many suggested that Mercedes were not willing to pay Lewis as much as he was demanding.
Despite all of this, Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton finally agreed a new deal in February.
How much does Lewis Hamilton earn?
According to F1 Insider, Hamilton will earn around £34million a year with the Mercedes team. This is the same as his previous deal.
While this is only a one-year deal, it's believed there's an option included for a second year.
One of the perks Hamilton was able to negotiate for himself is that he can now market two advertising places on his own helmet, as well as on himself.
There is even some speculation that Lewis has a say when it comes to future team-mates.
Hamilton seems happy with the agreement, going as far as to say: "I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates.
"Our team has achieved incredible things together and we look forward to building on our success even further, while continuously looking to improve, both on and off the track.
"I’m equally determined to continue the journey we started to make motorsport more diverse for future generations, and I am grateful that Mercedes has been extremely supportive of my call to address this issue.
"I’m proud to say we are taking that effort further this year by launching a foundation dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the sport. I am inspired by all that we can build together and can’t wait to get back on the track in March.”News Now - Sport News