Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has opened up on why it took so long to finalise a contract extension for Lewis Hamilton, something which was announced ahead of the Italian Grand Prix earlier this month.
It was announced in Monza that the seven-time World Champion had agreed to a new two-year deal with the Silver Arrows, keeping him at the Germans until at least the end of 2025.
Mercedes took longer than most expected to confirm Hamilton’s contract extension, given that it attracted a series of rumours.
Hamilton was rumoured with a switch to Ferrari several times during his negotiations with Mercedes, with one offer having reportedly come directly from Ferrari chairman John Elkann.
Had it not been for the delays, then these rumours likely wouldn’t have circulated, neither would’ve Charles Leclerc reported talks with the Silver Arrows.
Ultimately, Wolff put the delay down to the duo often being in “different parts of the world”, whilst having lawyers write up the contract for the 38-year-old also made the process “more tricky”.
“The negotiations with Lewis are always different because we talk when we see each other and then sometimes we both disappear into different parts of the world, and then it’s tricky,” Wolff told media including RacingNews365.com.
“We were pretty clear with the main terms before the summer.
“Then obviously you just need to put them in a contract with lawyers. That can be more tricky.”
It wasn’t just Hamilton whose contract was extended, as George Russell also saw his deal increased by a further season.
Mercedes also announced in Monza that Russell’s contract with the outfit had been extended by a further year, taking him to the end of 2025 with the team as well.
Whilst Russell’s deal now lasts until the end of 2025, Wolff isn’t ruling out the 25-year-old staying with the team for “another 10 years”.
“With George, we have such a long-standing relationship, since his junior days,” Wolff added.
“There is no reason why it’s another ten years. We’ll see next time around.”
Russell is very much seen as the driver to lead Mercedes once Hamilton retires, something which could happen when his two-year deal expires.