F1: Lewis Hamilton extends Mercedes contract
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Lewis Hamilton is in no rush to commit further than one season with Mercedes, as he eyes up a record-breaking eighth world-title in 2021, and says his uncertain future will not distract him as he looks to surpass Michael Schumacher for the most Drivers’ Championships of all time.
After much anticipation, Hamilton finally signed a new deal with Mercedes in February, but to some people’s surprise, chose to go with just a one-year deal.
It leaves Hamilton, bidding to become statistically the greatest Formula One driver of all time, in a very fluid position come the end of the 2021 season.
However, he was quick to say that won’t reflect how he performs this year.
“It doesn’t mean I’m not committed. I am still very committed to the sport,” Hamilton said.
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“It is not my first rodeo, I have been in this position where at least I have been asked the question for a period of time. I don’t really feel pressure in that sense.
“Naturally, I have continued to have a huge belief and always bet on myself, in terms of I know what it takes to deliver.
“I think I have an extraordinary relationship with Mercedes that is incredibly deep and I think there is more than just this racing that we will end up doing together, as we are already doing with this [charitable diversity] foundation.”
Hamilton was clear to state that no decision would come off the back of success alone, and that any future with Mercedes and in Formula One would not be defined by winning an eighth title.
“I think it’s more whether ,when I put that helmet on, I still have that smile when I leave the garage. It’s going back to ‘do you enjoy it?’, and last year was a really tough year for everyone, including me, but I think there were some really impactful moments.
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“Will that be the case this year? We’ll see. Will I enjoy it as much? We’ll see,” Hamilton continued.
“I’m excited about that currently, so I’m sure I will.”
With the cards firmly held to his chest, it seems Hamilton is very much in charge of his career, with a keen interest in both fashion and music.
But when it comes to the here and now, the 36-year-old was keen to reiterate his commitment to Mercedes, with any discussions past 2021 remaining unclear.
“That will be a constant discussion through the year, I am sure,” said Hamilton. “In terms of whether this is where I want to continue, if this is the road I want to continue down, it will come to me.”
Of course, the decision surrounding a contract with Mercedes isn’t solely down to Hamilton.
Team boss Toto Wolff has previously stated it has, and would always be, a joint decision, and conversations would remain open.
Wolff said: “We have agreed that we want to pick up the discussions much earlier this year, to avoid the situation we had in 2020, to run out of time and be in the uncomfortable position that we have no time left at the beginning of the season.
“That is also why we only did a one year contract, in order to allow us to discuss the future in racing and outside of racing longer and with the right amount of time.”
With Wolff adamant that the decision was mutual on both sides of the fence, the questions surrounding Hamilton’s future will seemingly be the topic of discussion for much of the season, with the prospect of a seven-time world champion calling it a day in Abu Dhabi.
But, one of the most decorated drivers of all time, said he wouldn’t allow the questions to create a distraction this year.
Hamilton said: “I’m fully invested in this season and delivering, I still love what I do.
“I’m in that fortunate position I don’t have to commit to multiple years. So I chose to have a one-year deal so that I could see how the year goes, and where we’re at mid-year, or towards the end of the year.”
Testing for the 2021 Formula One season gets underway from March 12-14, with the season opening race of the year on March 28 in Bahrain.
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