David Coulthard, a former Formula 1 race winner, has shared his perspective on the ongoing contract negotiations between Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team.
As Hamilton’s current contract with Mercedes draws to a close at the end of the current season, speculation has swirled about the possibility of the seven-time world champion moving to another team.
Coulthard’s insights provide valuable context on the situation and shed light on the intricacies of these high-stakes negotiations.
Earlier this year, there were rumours linking Hamilton to a potential move to Ferrari, a scenario that both Hamilton and Mercedes vehemently denied.
Despite the denials, Hamilton and Mercedes have yet to finalise an extension to his contract.
During the Belgian Grand Prix, Toto Wolff, the team principal of Mercedes, indicated that the negotiations had moved beyond “material things” and into discussions between lawyers.
Coulthard, a 13-time Grand Prix winner, weighed in on the situation, stating, “I am not aware Lewis is having a change of heart about whether he wants to go racing or not, and I don’t think Mercedes are having second doubts.”
He highlighted that Mercedes likely requires a certain commitment from Hamilton due to their business partnerships, including sponsor agreements.
Coulthard explained, “Mercedes will want a certain amount of time from Lewis for their partners.
“Mercedes will have sold sponsorship on obtaining access to their drivers.
“Some businesses will have signed up with the Silver Arrows because Lewis is there, rather than George Russell.
“Perhaps Lewis might be wanting to do fewer days or have fewer commitments?”
He emphasised that Hamilton’s role transcends driving and encompasses promotional and PR aspects that contribute to Mercedes’ brand image.
The length of the contract extension has also raised questions, especially considering Hamilton’s age.
At 38 years old, he is the second oldest driver on the grid, trailing only Fernando Alonso.
Coulthard noted that Hamilton’s confidence in his abilities could draw inspiration from Alonso’s extended career.
“I am sure Lewis will have said something similar. But he’ll look at Fernando Alonso, and think ‘if Fernando, who is 42 this month, is still competitive, then why not me?’” Coulthard remarked.
However, Coulthard highlighted that Hamilton’s primary motivation to continue in Formula 1 is centred around competitiveness and the pursuit of victories and championships.
“Scoring points will not change his life. He needs to see what Mercedes can show him that gives him the confidence he will be competitive next year, rather than having to stay around for another three seasons,” Coulthard concluded.