Lewis Hamilton’s contract status at Mercedes is the big talking point ahead of the 2021 Formula 1 season.
The 36-year-old is technically unemployed after his Mercedes deal expired at the end of the 2020 campaign.
He blitzed the competition last year to win his seventh world title and draw level with the legendary Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton is expected to return to the grid in the hunt for a record-breaking eighth crown – but talks over a new deal have yet to reach an agreement.
RadioTimes.com has rounded up everything you need to know about Hamilton’s contract situation with Mercedes.
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What was Lewis Hamilton’s contract in 2020?
A two-year contract was signed with Mercedes back in July 2018 to cover Hamilton for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
It’s estimated that he earned £40m per year, making him the best-paid driver in Formula 1.
Hamilton certainly provided value for money for the team as he romped to the drivers’ title in both seasons.
Why has Lewis Hamilton not signed a new contract?
The exact reasons for the delay in Hamilton’s future being confirmed are not entirely clear but neither the driver nor the team appear to be concerned by the situation, which suggests an agreement is likely.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has indicated the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and Hamilton being struck down by the virus slowed negotiations.
The terms of the deal could be a sticking point between the two parties. Reports in Italy claimed Mercedes bigwigs were reluctant to meet his alleged demands for a four-year contract worth in excess of £140m.
Wolff and Mercedes also have to think longer term. As George Russell’s management, they have a hot prospect on their hands – and the Williams driver superbly stood in for Hamilton at last season’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
The 22-year-old has been tipped as a future champion and the team could be eager to bring him on board sooner rather than later.
Hamilton also has interests outside Formula 1 including music, fashion, a vegan restaurant and his own electric racing team to take into account.
What will happen if Lewis Hamilton does not sign new contract?
Hamilton’s seat is the only one still to be confirmed ahead of the curtain-raising race in Bahrain on Sunday 28th Match 2021.
At least a year out of Formula 1 would be on the cards if the Stevenage-born driver fails to pen a new deal in time for the new season.
Mercedes would surely choose Russell, who has one year left on his deal with Williams, as his successor.
Such a move would cause a headache for Williams – last season’s back-markers – as they would need to quickly find a new partner for Nicholas Latifi.
The Grove-based team could turn to Jack Aitken as he got the nod when Russell was called up by Mercedes.
Will Lewis Hamilton sign a new contract?
The prospect of Hamilton not committing his future to Mercedes for at least one more season is almost unthinkable.
He is eager to surpass Schumacher by winning a record eighth world title and is training hard ahead of the new season.
On January 18, Hamilton wrote on Twitter: “Hey World, I’m in one of my favourite places in the world, training everyday, getting my mind and body right. I’m hiking to the top of the mountain every morning. Two of those hikes I cross country ski once I get to the top which is at 3400m, killer. Proper altitude training!”
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