Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2020

Hamilton ‘not comfortable’ agreeing new contract amid mass job losses

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says his contract talks with Mercedes are on hold because it doesn’t feel right to sign a new deal when the pandemic has cost so many people their jobs.

Hamilton and team mate Valtteri Bottas began the season in the final year of their current deals to drive for Mercedes. The team today announced a one-year contract extension for Bottas.

However Hamilton, who earns an estimated $40 million per year at Mercedes, said he doesn’t feel comfortable agreeing a new deal under the current circumstances.

“Ultimately, it just doesn’t feel like the right time to sit – when you think about so many people in the world that have lost their jobs, people that are unemployed – to then sit and negotiate a big contract,” he said in today’s FIA press conference at Silverstone.

“It just doesn’t seem like the most important thing that I need to apply time to right this second.”

Last November Daimler, which owns Mercedes, announced it would make 10,000 job cuts. Since the pandemic hit, media reports in Germany have indicated this figure may rise. Many other companies in a range of industries have announced significant staff cuts as a result of the pandemic.

Hamilton, who said last week he expects to race in F1 for at least another three years, made it clear he intends to continue driving for Mercedes.

“The fact is I do want to continue with the team and it’s not a big effort for us to sit down and get it done,” he said. “It’s just right now I don’t feel comfortable with it and so I’m going to wait a little bit longer.

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“I’m not talking to anybody else and I’m looking forward to continue, particularly as we’ve just started a new chapter as a team in terms of how we educate ourselves, how we understand what we’re going to do to help be more diverse moving forward and more inclusive.

Drivers, Circuit de Catalunya
How much are F1 drivers earning in 2020 – and should their pay be capped?
“I’m super-excited what what’s possible to do with Mercedes-Benz and this team moving forwards and so at some stage it will get done. I’m not stressed.”

Sebastian Vettel, who is without a seat for the 2021 F1 season, said he does not expect Hamilton will leave a vacancy for him at Mercedes.

“I think he wants to continue,” said Vettel. “I don’t know, I haven’t really spoken with him about it, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t continuing.

“But I don’t think there’s a rush as well. Obviously if he’s staying then he’s staying with Mercedes and if not, I guess he quits. But as I said, I don’t see that as an option.”

Bottas said his contract negotiations “went pretty smooth” and would have been concluded earlier if the pandemic hadn’t disrupted the start of the championship.

“Obviously it’s a special circumstances and we kind of agreed before we knew how the season was going to be that we would hopefully get something done by, let’s say, June. But of course we didn’t race even before June.

“So we just said let’s wait and see, let’s focus on the first few races and eventually speak. And then it just came really naturally and it was not really that tricky.”

Last year Bottas described the ongoing uncertainty over his contract as a distraction from his championship campaign. He said today he was pleased to agree terms just four races into 2020.

“We could agree things pretty easily and smoothly and there was no outside distraction either,” he said. “So it was good.

“It definitely didn’t hurt my performance at any of these first few races, it was not on my mind. So that’s how it should be done.”

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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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63 comments on “Hamilton ‘not comfortable’ agreeing new contract amid mass job losses”

  1. Lewis – do what you do Dude.

    If you feel bad then donate …. lots of people do that.

    I used to donate and I will again when I can.

    Lewis – send me a bottle of Rum ya bum ;)

    1. @nullapax

      I agree, take it, then you can decide how to best use it. Mercedes job is to make cars, don’t expect too much more from them, and take their money.

      1. I’m pretty sure Lewis is playing a card here. He’s saying to his employer, show me first how seriously you are taking this push to increase diversity in the sport. Once I see that you are not just playing lip service to my wishes to really start pushing changes, I’ll sign.

  2. Is he going to wait until 10,000 people are rehired before he signs then? Otherwise what’s the point?
    The sounds like PR timing, more fake face.

    1. Yeah he’s obviously been advised by his ‘team’ to postpone contract talks and to be honest it sounds like sound advice. There are going to be a lot of upcoming job losses and signing a new deal similar to his last one (£40m a year?) could cause some bad feeling. Although, as you say I doubt things are going to pick up anytime soon.

      1. But then how long does he wait? The global situation isn’t going to get better overnight, and sadly it’s likely to get a lot worse than it is now. He could wait 3 months to sign and even more people might have lost their jobs, so I really don’t understand his reasoning. He has to do at at some point, and any ‘backlash’ would still be the same.

        Honestly, I don’t think regular people are upset about sports stars signing their contracts and keeping their jobs – I wouldn’t have thought many people make the connection between an athlete’s ‘job’ and a conventional job, Athletes do things few people on the planet can do, and they get rewarded for it. Yes they get paid absurd salaries, but that has always been the case and it’s not the responsibility of the athletes to change that.

        1. It all depends – if he’s simply renewing his contract, no-one will care. If he’s trying to increase his wages (from more than you could ever possibly need to even more than you could ever possibly need) at a time where the company are making people redundant to save money, it’s not a good look and will create bad press all round.

        2. @keithedin a pretty easy answer, if he really, truly cared (lol), is to take a pay cut and provide that the loss in pay will result in a mass rehiring within the MB organization.

    2. I think he is afraid they will use the pandemic to propose a salary cut right noem and he can’t have that can he?

  3. It might be considered vain to sign a multimillion dollar contract amidst a crisis…

    … but it’s probably even more vain to put off signing it, as it’s perfectly clear there’s no way around you anyway and show how you have the power to decide when and where you feel like picking up that pen.

    King Hamilton, he’s doing some great things, but he’s not that great at hiding the throne he’s residing on.

  4. I mean he’ll sign it later?
    I don’t really believe the reasons aren’t PR because from what I’m watching and reading the economies will take a really long time to get back to where they were
    I think he’ll sign it when lots of people still haven’t been rehired
    But I kinda get that signing a big contract right now is insensitive and is waiting until the general mood is good enough that no one makes a big fuss of it

    1. But I kinda get that signing a big contract right now is insensitive and is waiting until the general mood is good enough that no one makes a big fuss of it

      It’s not that he doesn’t want to make $50m or so, it just that he doesn’t want look bad when doing it…. Pfff

      1. I agree, by the time he’s “comfortable” sigining a new contract, probably 75%+ of the jobs won’t be back (I’m being generous) and thousands of lost jobs will remain gone by the time his fat new contract ends three years from now.

  5. Very nice and considerate of Lewis to think about people facing the worst during this crisis.

    1. Very nice and considerate of Lewis to think about people facing the worst during this crisis.

      It would have been nicer and more considerate to act.
      He could have agreed a salary cut (for every €100k cut one other employee can keep his/her job), or accept the money he is worth and donate a part to a charity of his choosing.

      1. @coldfly exactly. This is just posturing for the less intelligent. He forgets Formula 1 is supposed to attract the more intelligent.

  6. He’s just afraid he may not get the money he wants…..economy is just an excuse…

    1. exactly, he wants to wait for things to recover so he can maximize his 3 year deal. His delay does nothing for those laid off.

      1. Exactly. His financial adviser and lawyer (who also advises governments, NGOs, other teams , promoters and major companies ) has advised him to wait a few months as the world economy will be back to normal by xmas. Even though the world bank, financial institutions, governments and business all think otherwise.

  7. Poor guy, oh well he could always accept the same measly 40 million again and donate it to 40 families… I know it won’t help much but its the thought that counts…

    1. that’s not flashy enough. he doesnt get to kneel or wear a cool t-shirt by doing that

    2. Why shouldn’t he accept the money? It’s not like the highly profitable company he works for is going to donate to starving orphans if he doesn’t. At least he does some charitable work with it.

      Nor is it like you wouldn’t accept a 40M salary if you could.

      I honestly smell jealousy when people quibble about how much sportsmen are paid. Yes, it is a crazy amount based on a capitalist system, but if the companies they work for aren’t doing anything better with the money, it might as well be taken off them. .

    3. Gavin Campbell
      7th August 2020, 3:13

      40 families? He gets paid the amount of 1000 people at Daimler.

      I think this is more an off the cuff remark but Hamilton’s recent thing of trying to sound #blessed all the time is a bit painful.

      I’m a fan of his (as a driver the mans incredible) but I feel Stevenage’s finest has been drinking his own cool-aid for a tad too long.

  8. Genuinely do not see the point in delaying it. Whether he’s comfortable or uncomfortable those people have still lost their jobs and somehow I doubt they’re going to be getting them back. Inevitably he’ll sign, either for the same obscene level of money or more, so the hesitation is a supremely hollow gesture unless he intends on donating a chunk of his salary or helping those out of work find new employment. He’s right that it’s a bit gross to sign a contract earning him some 40 million a year when people are going out of work but it’s just as gross to delay signing it until its less likely he’ll get backlash for it.

    1. @rocketpanda ‘Whatever must happen ultimately should happen immediately” said Hemry Kissinger.

      There is no good way of signing a contract for $40m+ a year if optics are what you really care about so may as well just get it over and done with. If he won’t sign until the economy is back to pre-pandemic levels so not to look bad then he will be taking a 2 year sabbatical (at least).

      1. Indeed. I guess you should die this very moment, then.

        1. @kbdavies Look mate if you think that casually implying that someone should go and kill themselves due to having a differing opinion is ok in an Internet forum then please seek help.

          1. Piotr (@piotrzukowski)
            7th August 2020, 11:14

            @chimaera2003 I think you misunderstood @kbdavies. It was just a reply to your quote:

            “Whatever must happen ultimately should happen immediately”
            We all will die ultimately, but should we die immediately?

    2. @piotrzukowski – I think he perfectly understood what i meant. He just didn’t like his logic being applied to him, that’s all.

      Talk about hypocrisy.

  9. I.e. Hamilton wants to wait for the outcome, whichever way. So that when he signs a gigantic costing deal, he won’t look as bad.

  10. This guy is a great motorcar racer …. but a stone cold donut regarding anything and everything else. Does he realise how dumb he sounds? Like we aren’t aware what F1 drivers earn and does he realise it has no effect on what the virus does mortality wise or economically?

    Ok Lewis … I’ll call your bluff … sign for free… donate your salary to the WHO or shut up like everyone else

    Seudo hero …… yawn yawn

  11. Hamilton will get a lot of flack for the amount of money he commands. But realistically if he took even a still handsome 6 figure salary, do we really think Mercedes are going to say great, we can actually keep on several hundred people they would otherwise lay off, or more realistically are they still going to make the lay offs and just post slightly more profit?

    So what it comes down to is would Hamilton’s huge salary do more good in the hands of Mercedes or in Hamilton’s hands?

    Does he just splurge all his pay on a jet set play boy life or does he actually invest in worthwhile causes?

    No one could ever spend the hundreds of millions Hamilton has made, and it’s not like he’s any offspring yet to leave it in trust funds to. I have no issue with Hamilton taking huge sums from Mercedes for his services, provided it isn’t just serving a grotesquely extravagant life, but is instead being redistributed into projects and causes that do some good.

  12. Crying all the way to the bank…

  13. Ok ,then resign and take up golf, or knitting. But pretty please, do shut up

    1. He should just not reply when journalists ask him questions?

    2. he is really pushing the boundaries of hypocrism these days. i wish Mercedes would give him a crappy car so he needs to focus on improving it rather than his clumsy approach to racism and now his blatantly obvious negotiation tactics.

  14. Good idea, sign when people won’t notice.

    Seriously though, why not donate one year of salary? He must have enough on the bank to live a life for 100 people.

    1. Because his real motive is leverage and then push for an even higher salary. Its a tactic woven into pr story.

  15. The best explanation I have is he wants to make sure those layoffs won’t affect the companies future / performance.

    Second best is that he probably hopes things get better because otherwise he is afraid that Merc will see a 40M€ / y deal as infisible as long as Merc is in layoff mode.

    I’m not sure it’s PR but I sure hope it’s rational thinking because if he does get the millions in the end, timing won’t change a thing for those unemployed.

  16. All salaries ought to be in the budget cap anyway.

    The advantage for the smaller teams should be that not having to pay for the star driver but taking the cheaper rookie still can confer some degree of, if not advantage, at least more level playing field.

    After all, in every F1 fantasy competition or management game it’s the first trade-off you have to make.

    I dunno why the big teams don’t want that, it’d remove a huge chunk of driver leverage right from the get-go. “Yes you can have all that money but that’s X R&D man-hours and Y windtunnel hours and Z upgrades you’re not getting for your next title challenge”.

  17. Poor Lewis, all that money on the bank in the caimans…

  18. He pays his Taxes – in the top 5000 in uk
    do your research

  19. It is a bit strange, to discuss a 100 milion EUR, contract, in midle of global struggles.

    If he is serious, he should donate 30 miliona year as scolarships for STEM gifted children from low income families.

    That will solve all kinds of future problems.

  20. Nice gesture but ultimately hollow if he’s not taking a pay cut to keep jobs at Merc or going to start paying taxes.
    Same goes for other drivers considering the same thing.

    1. Same as his approach to racism. Frustrating people around you instead of looking for genuine connection. He is fast, but not a man yet

  21. Because earlier he wasn’t part of the 1%?
    I’m getting so tired of his [uninformed and ignorant] wokeness.

    1. Oh, and his contributions to wildlife, avian especially.

      I hear he is very fond of cranes. The German variety, mostly.

  22. Praised in the House of Lords for his contributions to homeless shelters, childrens hospitals and hospices, injured vets, inner city schools, children not in school; and his work for Unicef, Save the Children, UN Ambassador for Education, etc.
    In the top 5000 of British taxpayers, despite not living there.
    But not good enough for the average Racefan poster.

    1. So you say in the comments section of every Hamilton article.

      The fact remains that he’ll sign an obscenely large contract at some point this year rather than take a massive pay cut or drive for free. Which can well afford to do.
      He can talk about the welfare of those thousands of employees who are now unemployed, or he could help them with his enormous fortune.
      Which one will he choose, I wonder…

  23. ^ Sad isn’t it.
    I imagine a lot of deals are on hold at the moment, not just in F1, heck we may all be dead by spring…
    Just saying, these are troubled times to be doing business.

  24. enough with this BS.. just let us know when the renewal is done…
    if you are that concerned about jobs, put it in your contract that you will take x% paycut that will help with retaining y number of jobs… time to put these words into action! (though im sure he already does a lot)

    big fan, but boy is he a drama queen

  25. Do it man..#raceforfree #raceforlove #raceforjustice…do it

  26. The sooner F1 gets rid of this clown the better! His fake titles mean nothing at all!

  27. hahahahahaha. I’ll not sign now cause i feel bad but I’ll sure take the money after. WOW.

  28. Damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t. Give the guy a break.

    1. I doubt he would be dammed ‘if he does’, Joe.
      It’s the apparent discrepancy between his words and (expected) future actions that creates these reactions.

  29. In other words, it’s bad PR to talk about Hamilton’s new contract and zillions he’ll earn at this point in time. If he felt bad, he’d simply ask for less money, he wouldn’t just prolong the inevitable. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against his salary. He values himself high, so does his team, and so does any neutral F1 fan. But this is just too corny and typical as of late.

  30. Would be fun seeing Mercedes getting impatient and ending up signing Vettel.

  31. Damn it! I wanted to express my anger at him signing a $40 million contract whilst others are suffering. Now he has delayed it. How annoying.

  32. Chris Horton
    7th August 2020, 9:39

    Seriously, how false can he get? He’s reaching the upper echelons now.

    I’ll tell you what Lewis, if you really care, drive for free on the condition that Mercedes use that 40/50 million to keep people on the factory floor in their jobs.

    But he won’t, he’ll sign when things are quieter and take the money.

  33. He should race for $1 in 2021 and ask the team to donate the rest.

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