Sources address Lewis Hamilton’s ‘second doubts’ about Mercedes contract

David Coulthard has lifted the lid on key considerations surrounding Lewis Hamilton's contract renewal.

As Lewis Hamilton prepares for the British Grand Prix this weekend, the clock is ticking on his £40 million-a-season contract with Mercedes, which has only six months remaining. 

In anticipation of Hamilton’s next deal, David Coulthard, a 13-time Formula One race winner and Channel 4 pundit, shared insights into the crucial aspects of the negotiations.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff confirmed that Hamilton’s contract extension would not be announced at Silverstone, but Coulthard believes it is only a matter of time before the deal is finalised. 

He expressed confidence that Hamilton remains committed to racing and dispelled any doubts regarding Mercedes’ intentions.

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“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,” Coulthard said. 

Mercedes undoubtedly values Hamilton’s involvement in terms of the time he dedicates to their partners. 

Sponsors often align with the Silver Arrows due to Hamilton’s presence rather than George Russell’s. Coulthard speculated that Hamilton might seek a reduced workload or fewer commitments, considering the extensive nature of his agreement. 

The contract extends beyond his performance on the track and encompasses image rights and promotional obligations. Mercedes not only purchases Hamilton’s driving services but also his brand and public relations image.

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“Mercedes will want a certain amount of time from Lewis for their partners,” Coulthard said.

“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?

“What Lewis will be signing up for goes way beyond him driving at a grand prix. 

“It is about what rights he retains in terms of his image, and what rights he sells to the team. 

“Mercedes are buying more than just Lewis’ driving services. 

“They are buying his promotional image and his PR image.”

Coulthard dismissed the possibility of Hamilton leaving Mercedes unless a significant fallout were to occur, which he deems highly unlikely. 

Even if tensions were to arise with Toto Wolff, Hamilton’s longstanding relationship with Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler, predates Wolff’s tenure as team principal.

“I don’t think there is any realistic chance that Lewis will leave Mercedes unless there is a major fallout. And I can’t see that happening.” 

“Who would the major fallout be with? Even if it was with Toto, Lewis’ relationship with Mercedes’ parent company Daimler is much longer than Toto’s emergence as team principal of Mercedes.”

While Hamilton may have expressed reservations about racing into his late 30s in the past, Coulthard believes he draws inspiration from drivers like Fernando Alonso, who, at 42 years old, continues to be competitive. 

“I am sure there are quotes from drivers when they were younger, who said they could not see themselves racing into their late 30s and beyond.”

“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, than why not me?’”

Hamilton’s motivation to stay in the sport hinges on his pursuit of victory and championship contention. 

Mere points-scoring will not suffice; he seeks assurances from Mercedes that they can deliver a competitive car for the upcoming year rather than being locked into a three-year commitment.

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Hamilton’s journey in life has been extraordinary, with remarkable achievements on and off the track. 

He possesses a healthy perspective on the duality of being Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One driver, and Lewis Hamilton, the individual and celebrity. 

Nevertheless, Coulthard acknowledges that none of the events tied to his public persona can replicate the adrenaline rush Hamilton experiences when racing a Formula One car. 

Thus, when the time eventually comes for Hamilton to retire, he must be certain that he is ready to step away from the sport.