Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2020

Hamilton ‘isn’t telling me whether he will re-sign for Mercedes’ – Domenicali

2021 F1 season

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New Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali admits he is uncertain over the future of the sport’s star driver Lewis Hamilton.

With 50 days to go until the start of testing for the new championship, Hamilton is yet to confirm whether he will continue to drive for the world champions in the 2021 F1 season.

Domenicali, who has taken over from Chase Carey as president and CEO of Formula 1, spoke to Hamilton during the off-season but was unable to shed any light on the doubt over his future.

“I have spoken with Lewis, we talked during the Christmas period,” Domenicali told Sky Sport Italia. “He is preparing. He is not telling me if he will sign or not sign the renewal with Mercedes.”

Hamilton joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013. He signed his last contract renewal, a two-year-deal taking him up to the end of 2020, during the 2018 season.

Why hasn’t Hamilton signed a new Mercedes deal yet? There’s a few million reasons
Mercedes’ strong performance last season, when the team won 13 out of 17 races, gives Hamilton a strong chance of scoring a record-breaking eighth championship if he returns to drive for the team this year, which he is widely expected to do.

Domenicali said Hamilton “has a great opportunity” to become “the strongest in the world” in terms of his achievements in Formula 1.

“He also has the opportunity to continue to play a role that goes beyond the sporting dimension,” Domenicali added. “And he can do so in the future.”

Hamilton is a vociferous supporter of anti-racism, diversity and the Black Lives Matter movement. Domenicali indicated yesterday the pre-race anti-racism observance introduced in Formula 1 last year and its ‘#WeRaceAsOne’ initiative will continue in 2021.

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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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73 comments on “Hamilton ‘isn’t telling me whether he will re-sign for Mercedes’ – Domenicali”

  1. Is this going to be like one of those really boring Mercedes-dominated races, where a few judicious radio messages are broadcast towards the end of the race about a ‘loss of power’ or something, just to try and inject a bit of drama into proceedings?

    He can’t really walk away. Can he?

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      21st January 2021, 10:37

      That’s exactly what it is. Or when they sandbag in practice and pretend they don’t know what’s happening before lapping the field on Sunday. Lewis will be signed come testing.

      1. There’s no positive outcome coming out from this unfortunately, if he leaves uninformed people will overestimate him and believe he’s unbeatable just cause he seldom had competitive cars around apart from his own and if he continues again mercedes dominance, I really would like to see him on a red bull or another car anyway.

        1. I’m not sure why going to another team gives a more positive outcome. The usual uninformed people who underestimate him will still do so if he doesn’t win; and if he does win those same uninformed people will be claiming it’s the car before he has got back to parc ferme. As they did when he went to Mercedes.

          1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
            21st January 2021, 12:49

            To be fair no one is truly appreciated in their time. Give it a few years after retirement and Lewis will be appreciated properly. Not to say he will ever be ‘liked’ but he will be appreciated.

      2. @rdotquestionmark I guess that is Lewis though, in years to come he will be appreciated, as anyone would be with the unquestionable success, he’s certainly up there with the greatest of all time. But nobody really seems to really ‘like’ or be ‘fond’ of him. He has by far the largest social media following, but still, he doesn’t really grab people in the same way others have.

        He’s not funny, or insightful, or self depreciating, he does have his causes, which I don’t doubt he believes in fully, and does fantastic work as a result, whether it be BLM or veganism.

        But i’d be surprised if his value is really that high at Mercedes, he is a ‘brand’ yes, he is unusual in many regards, and principled. So he should be a ‘hero’, but the reality is he isn’t really, least that I can see.

        Sport is a fickle business, and I suspect if or when Joshua & Fury meet, there will be more Fury fans than Joshua because he overcame adversity (drugs, depression and homophobia), and as stupid as it is, there’s a narrative that people can buy into. Where as Joshua has done nothing other than been a nice enough guy.

        I feel like Lewis could become the Djokovic of F1, everyone respects he’s the best in the world, but the world enjoys Federer and Nadal much more, as they’re more ‘connected’ more ‘human’, and much more relatable.

        I was in the crows for the Aus Open semi final between Novak & Roger a few years ago (2016?) and the whole Laver arena was chanting Roger’s name long before they came out, every point Djokovic scored (he won in the end) the place was silent, every time Roger returned the place blew up.

        We asked ourselves ‘why?’ afterwards, and it’s not an easy question, some people ‘connect’ and others are ‘appreciated’, I think Lewis will be a ‘appreciated’, just as Novak is.

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          21st January 2021, 14:25

          I always think Lewis is a bit of a misfit. @bernasaurus Someone who never quite got comfortable in his own skin. Possibly due to bullying, racism, an overpowering, controlling father (which there were definitely traits of back in 2007). He’s obviously carrying some insecurity and has dealt with it by narcissism for want of a better term. And it’s this narcissistic insincerity that’s never helped him gel with the public. Although he did gel with the public in his first couple of years in F1 because he was a Mclaren corporate robot.

          It’s proven by how many variants of Lewis’s personality we have seen over the last 15 years. Something I don’t think we’ve witnessed in F1 before. Sometimes drivers become more humble as they get older (Alonso/Schumacher) but that’s about it.

          But no question he’s one of the best ever. That isn’t even up for debate.

          1. Alonso? Humble? Have we been watching the same sport?

          2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
            21st January 2021, 18:01

            *more humble. Very important caveat ha.

            Compared to the young driver he was definitely @jacketh

            He used to be a total nightmare.

        2. Wrong. I like Lewis and im sure there are at least hundreds of thousands of people that like him as well.

          1. +1 more here

    2. You old cynic…but yeah probably!

    3. Almost certainly going to figure an “oh, there is clouds not too far from the track” moment as well there @red-andy.

  2. As much as I like Hamilton, for variety I really hope they sign Hulkenberg on a one year contract, and then bring in Russel in 2022, replacing whoever does worse out of Hulkenberg and Bottas.

    1. Can y’all stop with this Hulkenberg thing.

      Released by Renault because greedy and not stellar, he’s done three good replacement races in the third/fourth faster car and placed it where should be.

      If he was that great I guess one of the 10 teams would have contracted him for 2020 or 2021..

      1. He matched Perez who is now in Red Bull, he has beaten Sainz who is now in Ferrari. The reason he is out of F1 is his lack of money/sponsors and influence/connections. Sure he is no Hamilton, but he is a fast and reliable driver with maybe a bit too much bad luck.
        Why am I even writing this, you know it as good as anyone here. You just happen to not like him.

        1. I like Hulkenberg, not his results. I was full of promises for him after his GP2 title in 2009, but he never delivered. Team boss knows it.

          Though I’m with you on the marketing reason, and Mexico is a good market to sell sugared-energy-drinks.

        2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          21st January 2021, 16:35

          He beat Perez in 2014, then perez looked convincingly better overall. Then perez was up against Ocon and looked pretty even against him really even though ocon was a rookie. Then perez has been against Stroll who is not a great benchmark, but he did look as good as Perez for a large proportion of this season. I think Hulkenberg is a top 10 driver, but only just and think Perez and Bottas are a step ahead of him. Plus he’s never managed a podium which drivers like Magnussen, Kobyashi, Grosjean, Maldonado, Bottas, Massa, Perez, Kvyat, Gasly, Ricciardo, Norris, Stroll – the list goes on for ages – have all managed while not being in top performing teams teams.

          I also would say he isn’t quite as solid/reliable as someone like Bottas. While Bottas seems a bit inconsistent speed wise, he’s only once been responsible for his own or someone else’s retirement once in his entire career. Just looking back to 2018, Hulkenberg crashed out of the race at least twice (baku and Abu Dhabi from memory), then caused a huge pile up in Belgium which had a similar result to what grosjean got well known for. Causing 4 drivers to retire and even ricciardo ended up retiring later on due to no safety car helping him close the gap that he got due to damage. Basically hulkenberg crashed out 3 times himself that year and caused a total of 7 retirements and I may even have missed one or two. Even the year before, he drove into the wall in Baku which was exactly the same mistake as 2018.

          I think he’s better than a lot but not good enough for a top team, and not even for a solid number 2 IMO really. He also has very little sponsors which won’t help but that shouldn’t count against his ability.

      2. János Henkelmann
        21st January 2021, 20:22

        Thank you!

  3. Usual Hamilton – Mercedes guff.

    They both just love to make a drama out of the least dramatic events possible.

    1. True, but how about the marketing signal you are sending out as Mercedes if you simply replace a 7 times WDC by someone else whom then also wins the WDC. That says a lot about your car doesnt it. Oh wait, thats why we are doing this in the first place..

  4. I am prepared to have this post flung back in my face- but there is no way that Hamilton will not sign a contract allowing him to drive a Mercedes F1 car next year. Guaranteed front of the grid car capable of taking him to the record-breaking 8th world championship.

    1. Its more likely to happen to people who say they should sign someone else. He will sign. Its not even a story but both sides are probably flexing their muscles. They would never in a million years sign Russell on the back of half a good race. You dont spend 3 mill on a house and then get your kitchen from Homebase

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        21st January 2021, 16:20

        A better analogy would have been. ‘You don’t try to sign Nigel Mansell and end up with Tony’

  5. Hamilton has a lot more to lose than Mercedes do out of this, I’m sure he’ll sign on their terms.

    1. Does he really? If he leaves then he leaves as statistically the greatest F1 driver. Then if the driver who they choose to replace him does a poor job that will cause a lot of trouble for Mercedes. That’s what they have to weigh up, they know what they’re getting with Hamilton whereas anyone else might crumble under the pressure.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        21st January 2021, 11:32

        Yeah he absolutely does. The alternate argument to yours is he leaves as statistically the greatest F1 driver. Then the driver who they choose to replace him (Russell) wins the championship with several races to spare and it provides further ammunition to those who say Hamilton’s records are fairly meaningless as it’s was primarily down to the car he was driving.

        Mercedes would rather keep Hamilton – that’s obviously. If they didn’t want to, they’d have broken off negotiations already but if they say “this is our final offer”, Hamilton will take it because there isn’t really an alternative for him.

        1. A lot of if’s there

          1. Put it this way. If Hamilton leaved for another team who would you predict to win the drivers championship next year? Hamilton or a Mercedes driver?

          2. If Ferrari had a car like in 2017 to 2019, it would be Hamilton winning the WDC if he drove it.

        2. @petebaldwin Yeah, that’s the way I see it. From Lewis’ perspective there’s no other team he can sign with who will be competitive with Mercedes so he hasn’t got that leverage.
          And from Mercedes’ perspective, Valterri has managed managed 2nd in the WDC behind our man Lewis for the last two years so it’s a very solid bet that if they provide the car, he’ll do the job. He may not be as fast as LH (or even GR) but he can do it.

          Ultimately we don’t know why the contract hasn’t been signed yet, and I’m sure that they would both prefer to carry on racing together next year but I do think Mercedes hold most of the aces when it comes to contract negotiations.

          1. Yes, Mercedes has the upper hand on this, also running with George in Bahrain gave them more confidence that they can have another title paying 1/20 only to what they need to pay with Hamilton. Lot of money to be saved even if they lose on marketing.

    2. Well Hamilton would lose out on at least 80 million dollars for a start

  6. What would be the appeal for Hamilton to race this season?
    The prospect of having another COVID-hit campaign, working in bubbles and racing before empty grandstands can‘t be too tempting.
    Yes he‘ll probably become the first 8-time WDC this year but what is it worth without the fans witnessing it on track?
    Why not take a sabbatical, spend the year recharging and then coming back for some real competition and new generation of cars in 2022!

    1. That seems like an awful deal for Mercedes, who are then left to find a single year replacement at the last minute and are at risk of losing out on a WCC or WDC, it also means that whoever this replacement is, either they or Bottas is already out of a 2022 seat before they’ve even driven a single meter.

      If Lewis wants to take a break, I doubt Merc would have a seat for him in 2022. They’d put Russell in for 2021, he’d have a little time to acclimate and then they can build the team around him for 2022 with Bottas as his second.

      1. It certainly will not be an awful deal for Mercedes. Pretty sure Mercedes will draft Russell in, as even after compensating Williams, they will save millions. They can retain Bottas for 2022 or get a better driver than him for less than Hamilton. A lot of things will have to fall apart for Mercedes to not win the title in 2021.

        Yes, they will lose some value in marketing and probably that would be a concern. Hamilton certainly has less purchasing power for this as well as future years unless he agrees to a salary reduction.

      2. Fair point @aiii but Merc will be aware of the value that having Ham as an ambassador for years to come will have for them. Jeopardize all that for not letting him take a break in a stopgap year?

      3. @aiii Perhaps if Hamilton takes a sabbatical Mercedes can replace him for a year with another multiple world champion who is yet to return from his own sabbatical. Step forward, Mika Hakkinen.

      4. @aiii

        That seems like an awful deal for Mercedes, who are then left to find a single year replacement at the last minute and are at risk of losing out on a WCC or WDC

        If you remove Hamilton from this year’s WDC and still don’t count the points he snatched from Bottas. Bottas in that Mercedes who has been underperforming this year, even by his own mediocre standard, would still be a world champion against Verstappen, arguably the best driver on the grid, who has been driving the hell out of that Red Bull.

        The thing is Mercedes can even stretch their advantage in 2021 due to the freeze on chassis. They will carry the chassis advantage they have to 2021 and still developing what is considered the best PU on the grid. Mercedes can still win both championships with Bottas/Vandoorne behind the wheels.

    2. Why not take a sabbatical, spend the year recharging and then coming back for some real competition and new generation of cars in 2022!

      That presumes that Hamilton would want / need a “recharge” @jon-thereyougo.

      I just think that Hamilton would look forward to claiming a record amount of titles, boost the win tally and just enjoy winning most of the races over a strong competition. If not, why return a year later.

    3. If I could chose between racinga round the world in the fastest ever racing cars or spend another year stuck at home fiddling my thumbs, I’m not sure how someone could pick the latter over the former

      1. That is from your pov but Hamilton might be thinking the opposite.

        Would you really want the season you’re breaking every record the one that happened without the fans?
        Where the only cheer your getting for becoming the single most successful driver in F1 history comes from the 50 people in your garage instead from a crowd of 50,000?

  7. @marcusbreese

    I think there has to be a point where he won’t sign, and Race- fans reported they were nearly 300% apart.

    Imagine you didn’t have to work, then were offered half your market value. Imagine presenting yourself to your fans and colleagues after agreeing to work for 1/2 your value. Imagine how that feels to a black man who has made Black Lives Matter part of his image.

    Consider Schumacher, Michael Jordan, and all the other top athletes that walked away early. Even the last person to beat him in the Merc – Rosberg.

    It is completely possible he won’t be in F1 this year.

    1. @slotopen Market value is whatever someone is willing to pay. Unless he has an alternative offer from another team then in this case it’s what Mercedes is willing to pay so whatever he signs for is his market value.

      1. Maybe we should ask McLaren how life went after they let Hamilton go and were led from the front by Jenson Button…
        Hamilton has two market values: marketing image and the fact he can win Mercedes championships. Sure they can take a gamble on Bottas winning over a season against Verstappen (obviously Bottas would lose). Russell is a genuine prospect, but if the competition is as tough as, say, Ferrari showed in 2017 and 2018, then it would be expecting him to perform at a consistently high level all year, as Hamilton did, in a sometimes (half the time, let’s say) slower car. That’s a big ask. I’d be happy to watch it play out, sure. And I do think Hamilton might actually enjoy a sabbatical year and then sign for another team perhaps. But Mercedes? They seem to like everything nailed down and guaranteed. Losing Hamilton could see them rapidly decline, McLaren style.

      2. Market value is normally determined by comparable transactions. So unless big star drivers and equivalent team VIP are taking large pay cuts then his value is ballpark 40 million.

  8. RocketTankski
    21st January 2021, 11:56

    If Seb can take a pay cut to join the green Mercs then I’m sure Lewis can put pride aside and take a pay freeze at least. He will just race with a sour face all year?

    1. The Vettel comparison is flawed though, as the team are offering other financial incentives.

      He might be getting a smaller salary, but he’s also reported as receiving shares in Aston Martin – so, he will be receiving financial benefits that come from outside the team (i.e potential dividends, profits from increases in the share price, fees for promoting Aston Martin and so on). Vettel will almost certainly be earning more than the headline salary figures might suggest – but how much more is hard to tell without knowing the value of that secondary deal with Aston Martin.

    2. Vettel also had an awful season and was lucky to get a drive at all.

  9. They probably have signed a contract but go unannounced to keep both parties in the limelight Ecclestone has said. No news is bad news. So their name and brand keep on floating until the season starts at least.

  10. Even the announcements of the driver transfers, Alonso’ comeback, Tsunoda to AlphaTauri and Haas’ new driver line-up took a shorter time than Hamilton’s contract talks.

    1. I believe that – Alonso’s return – is one of the key reasons…
      There will be massive publicity about Alonso’s return at the start of 2021, so Merc & Ham keep the contract talks on the boil till testing and announce just as the season starts so it feels as a big announcement that Ham has finally signed.. and match somewhat the publicity of Alonso’s return and Vettel in Aston Martin colours…

  11. Ineos are currently running a TV ad campaign in the UK heavily featuring Lewis.

    Am I wrong to jump to the conclusion that he has already signed a contract?

  12. Surely not since his contract negotiations don’t concern Domenicali to any extent. I’m still not at all worried, though, that he wouldn’t continue. By pre-season testing at the very latest, everyone will know for sure. Despite this surprisingly long and ongoing delay, I still don’t expect any outcome other than him continuing. Quitting very close to a record-breaking 8th WDC and the first triple-digit number in both wins and poles would be foolish.

  13. Only discussion is between LH’s pride, ego & greed.
    Only person to benefit? George Russell.
    Merc 2012. George Russell & Valteri Bottas.

    1. Cristiano Ferreira
      21st January 2021, 13:33

      Nope, it was Schumacher and Rosberg

    2. Did he have a F1 licence when he was 14?

  14. There is an amateur karting outfit in my ‘hood wher I think he might do just fine

  15. I think Hamilton will sign, but deep down I wish Mercedes would sign George instead. Knowing the outcome of a season dominated by Hamilton before the season even starts takes the wind right out of watching the race.
    Mercedes should let Hamilton get on with his Philanthropy ” Black Lives Matter” and all of the other activist groups that he is supporting :).

  16. Hamilton is likely already signed up.

    Actually, neither Toto/Mercedes nor Hamilton are generating any information about. Media is the one going crazy since they have nothing else to work on.

    The details of the contract won´t be revealed anytime soon or ever.
    It´s a very bad timing for that now for both, Mercedes and Hamilton.
    Mercedes is going though harsh changes in Daimler including layoffs and Hamilton has a concerned social narrative, then, there is not place for an announcement of a millionaire contract for a F1 driver.

    Even though the deal is clearly a win-win situation, it does not look good from a public image view point.
    So, neither Toto nor Hamilton will talk much about it, and the media will keep filling the vacuum with nonsense.

  17. It’s all about dollars and deltas. I bet Merc know the relative performance of the cars and again relative performance of drivers and if they think Merc + Valteri/George > Red Bull + Max/Carlos and they have also allowed some buffer in that then the current scenario makes.

    1. PaulieDanciePants
      22nd January 2021, 0:08

      I wish he would walk away.
      Give George a chance!!!!!

  18. Philip Carr Sliven Bulgaria
    21st January 2021, 23:18

    There is no way that Lewis does not return. I predict he will be driving in 2021 because he won’t want to leave like this. His contract will be for 2 more years & he will not get paid more than 20 million per annum. I also predict Nikita Mazepin will get several blue flag violations before a major incident see’s him suspended!

  19. Lewis probably take the lower wage and accept shares in the team…which makes more sense at his level.

  20. Dean Franklin
    22nd January 2021, 6:28

    Hamilton has nowhere else to go and really has no bargaining power.

    Russell has shown he can do Hamilton’s job 48 hours from first hopping into a car setup and designed for Hamilton. Russell will do Hamilton’s job at 1/10th of what Hamilton is demanding during a time where economies have been destroyed worldwide.

    Not only does Hamilton have nowhere else to go in 2021, but Mercedes winning both championships is a given.

    Hamilton would drive that Merc for free to collect his 8th championship rather than let Russell win it.

    Toto is probably too emotionally involved with Hamilton to offer him market value I think Hamilton will get what he wants. Daimler should tell Toto if you want Hamilton in 2021, you and Ineos should cover his salary.

    1. The most successful ever F1 driver in history has no bargaining power. You’ve not really thought this through have you. Also the championships is never a given before the year starts which is why Mercedes work so hard every year to deliver the best car they can for the first race of the year rather than think last years performance will just carry over.

      1. He has none because Russell has shown he can do Hamilton’s job with next to no preparation. Hamilton would have bargaining power if Ferrari, RBR, McLaren, Renault had seats available but they don’t. It’s either take what Merc offers or take a sabbatical and let Russell cruise to his first title.

        Merc have dominated this era and with regulations kept virtually the same in order to reduce costs, Merc will romp to the most predictable championship in the sport’s history.

        I’d happily give some odds of 5/1 for the field and I take Merc for the constructors.

    2. I do worry whether Jim with his $18 billion and Toto with his $600 million can afford to cover two thirds of Hamilton’s salary.
      But I get your point. After watching Russell at Imola and Bottas in Turkey I can see why Mercedes no longer need a Hamilton.
      Odd that you have spent the last year pretty much disparaging the pair of them though.

      1. Look, Russell as a young driver made a mistake at Imola. I wouldn’t hold it against him. Didn’t make a mistake all weekend in Hamilton’s car at Sakhir. Hamilton got beat by Bottas in Abu Dhabi, missed a pit closed light at Monza, doing silly practice starts in a dangerous part of the track in Russia, look at 2019 Germany two massive spins in the race got very lucky to stay in the race.

        1. @Dean F/Franklin Your opinions are far too biased, Hamilton isn’t perfect and will make the occasional/rare mistake; Yes Russell performed very well in one race, in a car not perfectly suited to him, but he has test driven Mercedes cars before so it isn’t exactly alien to him.

          As much as you like to bash Hamilton I’d rather he was driving the car as he can always make the difference if any other part of the Mercedes juggernaut make a mistake or unforeseen error.

          There are plenty of examples of those which you never mention.

    3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      22nd January 2021, 19:09

      I’d be far more interested in watching history being made in 2021 with Lewis and Merc achieving an eighth WDC and WCC and then seeing how George matches up to Lewis in 2022.

  21. His stances about F1 plan to race in Africa, and his barely ongoing negotiation with Mercedes, are somewhat inconsistent as the money being his consideration.

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