Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Liberty’s 2021 plans could affect Hamilton contract talks

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says Liberty Media’s plans for the future of Formula One, details of which are expected to be revealed tomorrow, could have a bearing on his Mercedes contract negotiations.

Hamilton is considering whether to extend his current contract beyond the end of this season, and if so, how long for.

Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018
Bahrain Grand Prix build-up in pictures
He told media including RaceFans in Bahrain he and the team are still “talking about it as and when we want to.”

“It’s quite an interesting time in Formula One,” said Hamilton. “Obviously we’ve got tomorrow potentially some sort of announcement, discussions of what’s happening in F1 moving forward.

“It’s always good to wait to hear some of those and see the future of Formula One. For sure that could or could not have an impact on decisions we make in terms of length or whatever we end up doing in Formula One.”

Hamilton made his F1 debut in 2007 and indicated he is still deciding how much longer he wants to continue racing in the sport’s top flight.

“The next contract is probably the most important one of my career, this decision I make. The last contract was the most important up to that point and the next one will be even more important than the last one.

“So the length, your decision how long you want to commit to being in Formula One is becoming more and more important I think for me, being that I’m at the latter end of my career.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Liberty’s 2021 plans could affect Hamilton contract talks”

  1. Mercedes either need to get another elite level driver in place of Bottas for next season or secure Hamilton until at least the 2021.

    A big rule change demands some driver consistency as a baseline. Alonso is going to be too old, Vettel and Verstappen are locked in their contracts, so we’re left with Ricciardo. Even then I still think Hamilton is any teams best choice as the driver to put behind the wheel while you’re testing and developing.

    1. There’s a lot of time till we get to 2021. We’ll see the prospect of Ocon, Sainz, Vandoorne, LeClerc and maybe even Norris reaching their potential by then. I’m pretty sure that Mercedes will get Verstappen on their squad once Lewis leaves F1 though. Max’s contract was for 3 seasons if I remember correctly.

    2. I think Hamilton would relish the challenge of having Ricciardo as his teammate. I can see this happening in 2019. @philipgb @todfod

      1. I think Lewis likes having Bottas in his corner right now, but I don’t see Lewis opposing Ricciardo joining the team if that’s what Mercedes wants.

  2. F1 is Ferrari. Never a consensus if it is not in Ferrari’s interests, anything else and they will veto it.

  3. I see the writing on the wall?
    I’ve for quite a while now been waiting for LH to change team.
    All F1 drivers seriously yearn to tame the prancing horse.
    The fact that LH & Merc are still in contract negotiations speaks volumes!
    Ferrari’s ambitions have been thwarted of late my Mercedes success technically & with LH at the peak of his career.
    Max V’s current massive support regarding Merc’s “party mode” must grate/shred Christian Horner’s nerves?
    My dusty & ancient but trusted crystal ball sees a cloud of mist clearing?
    Forza Ferrari 2019? LH & MV.
    Petronas Mercedes 2019? SV & NR. (Comeback no problem once LH has scarpered!)

    1. Verstappen is Red Bull’s golden boy. They’d do nearly anything to keep him on board. Ricciardo is more likely to join Ferrari next year, if anyone. And why would Lewis ever consider leaving Mercedes as long as they’re at the front? If they maintain the gap they’ve had since 2014, he could be looking at relatively easy championships for the next three years.

      1. Yes. The only team that can win the next 3 championships is mercedes. And merc is willing to pay lewis a ton of money and let him have his freedoms to do all the other things he wants to do in addition to f1. Ferrari might be willing to pay more but for sure LH would have less freedoms to do those other things at ferrari. And lewis would be driving a worse car and the driver that replaces him at mercedes would be winning those championships.

    2. I think Lewis has said on several occasions that he has no interest in Ferrari. Considering it’s been since 2007 they’ve won any title and Mercedes seems the team to be up until 2021 I very much see Hamilton staying until then and then retiring, mind you that’s another 3 seasons after this one.

      1. @wildbiker, with your rather ambitious predictions, I presume you are therefore assuming that Vettel would break his contract with Ferrari? He is, after all, under contract with Ferrari until the end of the 2020 season, so unless there was some sort of financial settlement with them in the intervening period, he’s not on the market until 2021 at the earliest.

        Verstappen is also under contract with Red Bull until 2020, and Forza Maldonado is right about Red Bull bending over backwards to keep hold of him. Furthermore, after Vettel jumped ship to Ferrari, they modified their contracts to make it much harder for rival teams to buy their drivers out of their contracts, and they seem to have been especially thorough with Verstappen’s contract.

        It’s not to say it’s impossible, but it strikes me as being improbable that those drivers will leave their respective teams in the near term. I think it’s more likely that they are all staying put for now and waiting to see what might happen for 2020, especially given the whispers that Liberty Media might want to impose some rather drastic rule changes for 2021.

        @flatsix, I would agree that, from his statements in the past, he has not given the impression that he’s swayed by the “romanticism” of driving for Ferrari in the way that some other drivers are.

        He doesn’t seem to have completely ruled it out, just simply from the practical point of always wanting to keep the maximum number of options open in the longer term, but I get the impression he feels a lot more comfortable with Mercedes’s attitude towards how they structure their team and their approach to racing in F1 compared to how Ferrari runs their operations.

        I agree it’s more likely that Hamilton will stay on at Mercedes for the next few years – why would he want to leave a leading team where he seems to be pretty happy – and is more likely to be hinting at the possibility of retiring from F1 in 2020 if he thinks that the post 2021 regulations are a step in the wrong direction.

      2. I don’t believe Ferrari has ever claimed they wanted Hamilton despite Hamilton’s claim.
        They let it be known they wanted ALO long before they signed him and the same with Vettel.
        If Hamilton indeed relishes the idea of driving for Ferrari I think he will be disappointed as VET will have a stranglehold on who his partner will be just as HAM has done with BOT.
        I think RIC has a very good chance of signing with them but they haven’t shown interest as of yet.
        VET has stated he would welcome having RIC as a teammate as they get along so that helps.
        I think HAM will do what he’d be crazy not to do – sign again with Merc.

  4. Yes, I think he could well make a contract till 2020 with mercedes, so 3 years like usual and then see what happens with the 2021 regulations, if he doesn’t like them he can leave then, he could still get a few years after that though, he would be 36, so if he actually wanted some years at ferrari, he could be there till 39, after that it’s very wise to leave f1 as you’d just decline too fast (in average).

  5. “If the Mercedes isn’t going to have a massive advantage, I’m going home to sulk”

  6. From a brand Hamilton perspective, it might be a safer bet to not stay in F1 beyond 2020.

    If its a wholesale regulation change, Mercedes may not retain the unassailable advantage that they posses in the current formula. Further to that, depending on how the commercial terms play out, Mercedes management may decide to cut back on their funding of the F1 team. Hence, hypothetically, there is a good chance that Mercedes may not be the all conquering behemoth that it is today.

    I’d say that at the end of 2020, Lewis will more than likely be a 7 time world champion, equalling Schumacher. By that point, he would probably have broken every record there is to break. So instead of jumping into the unknown the following year, why not bow out in style? His brand power will be at its peak and he would be able to do pretty much anything, in racing or otherwise.

    The point is that, contract talks may take brand Hamilton’s prospects into consideration.

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