Speculation about why Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are yet to sign a contract for 2021 has gone into overdrive in recent weeks.
According to reports, the main sticking points are Hamilton’s demands for a pay rise – something that Daimler, in particular, is opposed to – and his insistence on signing a multi-year deal instead of a single-year extension.
Last week, Formula1News.co.uk approached the Mercedes F1 Team for comment on reports that it had only offered the seven-time World Champion a one-year deal, but they had nothing to say.
And, more recently, a source told this publication that there is a “real chance” that George Russell could replace Sir Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year.
But now, a source within the Mercedes F1 Team has described these claims as “fake news” and insisted that their 2021 driver line-up will consist of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
“Any suggestion that Lewis won’t be with us this year is simply fake news. Plain and simple,” the source told Formula1News.co.uk on Monday.
“There is no reason he and Valtteri won’t be driving our cars in 2021. You can consider it confirmed,” he added.
Last week, motorsport pundit and ex-F1 car designer Gary Anderson called on Hamilton to be “realistic” when negotiating his new contract and said Mercedes would have to rely on Bottas and George Russell should he decide not to yield.
“The belief within the Mercedes team will be that Hamilton will stay on but the debate seems to be over the length of the deal,” Anderson said.
“So it’s about how long he wants to commit for – and for how much – rather than whether he is willing to.
“But he also has to be realistic because everything is suffering financially in the world given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even with the rule changes and the cost cap, teams are struggling to pull in the necessary money and with Mercedes cutting back on its wider workforce and these challenges he does need to buy into that situation and look at the bigger picture than just what he’s earning,” he added.
Continuing, Anderson said Hamilton’s departure would be a “big loss” for Mercedes, but it wouldn’t necessarily stop them from continuing to dominate Formula One.
“But it’s in the interests of the three parties that own the team – Mercedes, Ineos and Toto Wolff – to find a solution and get Hamilton’s name on a contract.
“It will be interesting to see if it doesn’t happen. If Hamilton decides he’s bigger than the wider picture of the financial challenges then he could end up walking away.
“But this doesn’t make that much difference to the job the team is doing.
“Hamilton is a great driver and not having him would be a big loss, but they just have to keep doing what they are doing and rely on Russell and Valtteri Bottas to do the job,” Anderson concluded.
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