Lewis Hamilton holding up new contract as Mercedes trying to slash his salary

Lewis Hamilton is currently the second highest paid driver in F1, behind reigning world champion Max Verstappen.

Ex-Formula 1 driver turned pundit Martin Brundle has questioned if Mercedes are perhaps under “some pressure” to reduce Lewis Hamilton’s salary, resulting in “a bit of gameplay” in the 38-year-old’s contract negotiations.

The seven-time world champion is currently three months into the final year of his deal at Mercedes, which expires at the end of 2023.

It had been expected over the winter break that a multi-year extension would be signed, following hints by Hamilton and team principal Toto Wolff towards the end of last season.

Hamilton is still expected to sign a multi-year extension with the team at some point during the current campaign, to keep him at the Brackley-based team until the end of 2025.

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His potential new deal was one of the biggest talking points of the recent winter break, with some of the reported figures having suggested that the 103-time race winner will once again become the highest paid driver on the grid.

Based on his current deal, Hamilton is the second highest paid driver on the grid behind Max Verstappen, who recently signed a lucrative contract with Red Bull.

Brundle is convinced that Hamilton is ultimately driven by “the performance and not the money” being offered to him, but that he won’t want to “turn down a big pay cheque” should there have been one on the table at some point in the negotiations.

“You have to remember Lewis is in the middle of a negotiation as well,” Brundle told Sky Sports F1’s podcast.

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“Now I’m 100 per cent certain Lewis would always follow the performance and not the money, but who’s going to turn down a big pay cheque if you can get it as well?

“There may be some pressure at Mercedes to reduce his current pay. So there is a bit of negotiation and a bit of gameplay in this as well.” 

Another question mark over a potential new contract for Hamilton is if George Russell’s performance could impact its value, given that the former Williams driver became just the third team-mate of Hamilton’s to beat him in the drivers’ championship last season.

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Sky Sports F1 presenter Simon Lazenby doesn’t believe Russell’s performance will have any impact on a potential new deal for Hamilton, who’s “value” can’t be “underestimated”.

“No, I don’t think it will come to that,” Lazenby told Express Sport.

“I don’t think you can underestimate the value of Lewis’ marketing potential to a brand like Mercedes either. I think that’s why he commands figures way in excess of George at this stage of George’s career.”