Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Hamilton begins Mercedes contract talks, wants Bottas to remain as team mate

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Lewis Hamilton has confirmed he has begun discussions with Mercedes over a new deal to drive for them in the 2022 F1 season.

The seven-times world champion signed the most recent extension to his contract just four months ago, on the eve of the new season. Talks over his 2021 deal were delayed by the late conclusion to last year’s world championship, and the fact both he and team principal Toto Wolff contracted Covid-19 around the time.

As late as December last year Hamilton said he was yet to start talks on his next contract. However he is keen to conclude discussions earlier than last time, and confirmed today talks are already underway.

“We have begun discussions,” he said. “Not a lot to say too much but we have started discussions and things are positive.”

Mercedes is known to be considering whether to replace Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas with junior driver George Russell, who currently races for Williams. Hamilton made it clear he believes the team should stick with the same line-up.

“Valtteri is my team now and we’ve both of us had our ups and downs in our careers,” he said. “But as I said, I think he is a fantastic team mate and I don’t necessarily see that it needs to change.”

Don't miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Styrian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

56 comments on “Hamilton begins Mercedes contract talks, wants Bottas to remain as team mate”

  1. Of course Hamilton wants Bottas to stay his teammate, he knows he’s gonna beat the guy.
    Problem is, I don’t think it’s good for F1 or for Mercedes succession planning.

    1. I don’t even really think it has much to do with Lewis knowing he can beat Bottas (yes, he can) Neutralino.

      For Hamilton, I think he really is happy not to have any environment anything like what he had with Alonso at McLaren, and to an extend with Rosberg at Mercedes when they were directly competing against each other more than working together to beat the oposition.

      With Russel, it is clear that George will have to come in and establish himself. His target would be to do what Leclerc did at Ferrari. Come in, beat the multiple champion and see him off the team to build it as his own team. You can hardly blame Lewis for not being keen on that.

      On the other hand, yeah, Mercedes does need to think about the future, after Hamilton. And if they don’t promote Russel, he might well slip away from them to someone else.

      1. I agree, it makes sense for Hamilton to uphold the status quo. But I don’t think he feels threatened by Russell. Times are different now compared to when Hamilton was paired with Alonso or Rosberg. Hamilton is a 7-time world champion near his retirement now. It seems to me for a while now that Hamilton is looking for a reason to retire and Russel might be just that.

      2. @bascb Couple things on that for me. It takes two to tango and whatever it was between he and FA and he and NR was not all just on them. As well, by having two teammates competing against each other that is how they push each other and push the competition out. It is why TW had wanted two more years minimum of LH/NR post-2016 only for NR to retire.

        Yes of course LH is happy to have a teammate seemingly incapable of taking the gloves off, but methinks Mercedes will not be happy losing the WCC this year (if that happens) and that should take precedence over LH’s personal perfect world, which I know is part of your comment too.

        Besides, in spite of what LH has said of wanting them to retain VB, has he not also said in the past he fears no one and welcomes competition? I’m sure upon hearing of them signing GR, LH will be diplomatic and complimentary and will take the bigger picture Mercedes stance. And he should be the grateful Mercedes man that he is and help mentor GR, amongst many reasons being to pay Mercedes back for all they have afforded him in his record breaking career. A career with only ever a Mercedes powered car.

        1. We have sparred many times Robbie but the…

          A career with only ever a Mercedes powered car…

          For goodness sake did he date your girlfriend of something?

          A career with a Merc engine.. just like all this other multiple world champions..

          1. @drgraham Not sure what your problem is with that fact. I’m just sure he is grateful for all Mercedes has done for him and one could reasonably expect that if/when they hire GR as his teammate he’ll be a good mentor for him…as in…pass the baton, no?

          2. @drgraham As in, I think he owes Mercedes that, if that is their intent upon bringing GR onboard.

        2. Well, yeah. Off course it takes two to tango @robbie, and Hamilton himself clearly had his own role in how things broke down there.

          I don’t think there are many people here anymore who do not think that Mercedes putting Russel into the car is a no-brainer for the future (and to do so soon, otherwise risk losing him). On the other hand, to Hamilton it will mean taking apart something that works well for him, which is always a risk. I can understand it is one he would be happy not to take.
          And I am sure that Hamilton will cope well enough with it and will expect to be able to talk about how he is happy to see George being a good team player etc. within a few races as well. How it will turn out, I hope to get to see next year!

      3. Yeah but Russell has nowhere to go. Every top spot is filled. Unless he wants to commit to Redbull and get a Alpha Tauri seat but thats still not a topteam seat. No way he will give up that Mercedes connection for that seat.
        And Haas and Alfa Romeo are basically Williams level.
        Mercedes knows this and Wolff is a businessman. Same reason he didnt try to get Verstappen. If Lauda would have been around it would have been a different story because he was more focussed on talent and f1. Wolff wont have any problem letting Russell wait another season if he is sure that Hamilton will deliver next season.

        1. He could do what many others in F1 have done and say, I actually want to wake up with a chance to race, not run around in the back anymore. If he doesn’t get Merc next year, he’ll do a Rossi and head to the states. Funny thing, everyone who makes the move say how great it is, plus they will be able to be racers again. Indycar may not be F1, but it produces crackin’ races with great tracks and lots of really good teams and drivers.

    2. Neutralino pretty much says what I would have said and have been saying. And what of GR? Leave him sat there at Williams? That wouldn’t be right at this point.

      1. Wouldnt be right but he has nowhere to go and Wolff knows this. Wolff is a businessman only focussed on running the company. If that means matching up Lewis with Bottas another season he will do that without feeling any guilt vs Russell.

        1. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
          24th June 2021, 19:06

          I am in 2 minds about GR. HE is talented, yes. But he hasn’t grabbed the very few chances he has had at Williams to score points. Crashing during SC, crashing to pass Bottas, going down the order after poor starts many times (even Latiffi overtakes him sometimes during the starts)… I agree with you that because if that, he might actually not have other teams desperate to hire him if he becomes a free agent.
          But he IS talented. And he should be given a chance, instead of Bottas

  2. It would be infinitely stupid to not promote George next season, already a season too late, to the main team. His loyalty to Mercedes is to be commended, but if they pass yet again, he needs to leave Toto and move on to greener pastures.

    Hamilton got a few more years in him I’m sure, but it’s time to invest in a successor and not waste more time on Bottas just to appease Hamilton. George need a year or two to get to the level they need him at, and he won’t get there if they keep him at Williams.

    1. With the new regulations for 2022 it is also a sensible time to promote Russell @aiii, as there will be a learning curve for all drivers whether they’re changing teams or not.

      That said, Mercedes won’t want to end up changing both drivers, so I doubt we will hear which of Russell or Bottas will get the nod for next season until Hamilton’s new contract is confirmed. Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long as last time…

    2. @aiii This. And as Hamilton has said he welcomes competition, there’s no real arguments against.

      But of course we all know how Wolff’s mind work by now, and even the team. It’s about ‘loyalty’ (except for the hoi palloi like Bottas), which really just means appeasing Hamilton. For sure they also think they are still invincible, and it doesn’t matter who they put in. Justify to some degree by Russell himself when he subbed for them.

  3. But as I said, I think he is a fantastic team mate and I don’t necessarily see that it needs to change.

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Bottas and doesn’t sound like a demand for Bottas to remain either. To me it seems more like a why rock the boat type of statement that comes with a shrug of the shoulders.

    1. Hey, don’t try to break a great journalistic headline!

    2. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Bottas and doesn’t sound like a demand for Bottas to remain either. To me it seems more like a why rock the boat type of statement that comes with a shrug of the shoulders.

      Nail on the head. But let’s not let common sense get in the way of firing up the anti Hamilton masses despite the fact that Bottas actually races Hamilton when on a contra strategy (Spain) and Perez is the real wingman who basically left the track so as not to impede their lord and saviour Supermax (France).

      1. RB13 Lol, said as you attempt “firing up the anti Hamilton masses” with ridiculous hyperbole.

      2. RB13, Bottas wasn’t racing Hamilton in Spain really, he was trying to prove a point but did so in a clumsy way which only lessened his chances of staying in Mercedes.

  4. I can’t imagine any team would want to change drivers next year, that’s why there was so much driver movement last year. To set the foundations for the new regulations. Half the field aren’t even upgrading their cars this season in prep for 2022.

    1. 2022 is the perfect time to change drivers as it’ll be a learning curve for all.
      You won’t get a new guy coming in and struggling in isolation at a new team like we’ve seen this year as its new for everyone

  5. Bwhahahah Lewis…. I don’t know how the internal discussions are, but nobody wants to have a co- worker that is toxic. However, Russell should bring new energy to the team. I am also wondering in Toto’s quote that Valterri finally criticized Mercedes, is Bottas a bit taciturn? Being quite and taciturn is not always beneficial. Russell is definitely vocal and active, as shown with his messages in the Sakhir GP. I don’t know how Hamilton is personally, but I think they need more competition in the team just like the Rosberg-Hamilton era, because that just pushed the team to new heights. I do believe that Rosberg departing the team caused the team to lose some of its dominance in 2017-2018. At the cost of making Lewis probably feel better. The question is: Is the team willing to bring in a driver that could potentially cause friction in spite of the possibility to bring more energy and potential?

  6. What a way to put words in is mouth! “Valttery staying has no bearing on my contract v/s Valttery staying is a condition for the extension of my contract” click bate title sure to stir up all kind of controversy

    1. +1
      A lot of the comments here are about what the title says/implies rather than what was actually said and reported in the article. Racefans (not race fans) are benefiting from giving their audience (us) incorrect statements and information which on turn feeds the basic dislike some have about certain drivers, be they Hamilton, Verstappen, Better, etc. That’s not great journalism.

      1. Hum… I mean Vettel, not Better. He is getting there but he is not getting any better than he once was :-)

  7. Merc probably should have brought Russell in for Bottas this season. Given talent is not really in question, the only reasons I can think not to do so next season are (a) he has some kind of attitude problem or (b) the drastically different cars next year are felt to require driver stability or (c) they believe they can lure Max away from Red Bull.

    Beyond the fact Russell is young and has thrown a small tantrum or two as a result, I can’t see him having a bad attitude, just a competitive one. I guess only Merc know the extent to which having the same drivers could benefit them next year, but as long as they have Hamilton then the stability will be there. Getting Max seems less and less likely now, but if they were able to then I can see why they would see Russell as surplus to requirements.

    I don’t think Hamilton would really object to the change, but I imagine he quite likes have a team-mate without the drama between them (Alonso, Rosberg etc). His wishes on that front are entirely irrelevant to Merc, however. They have to get the succession planning right and if Russell is the one they see as taking over the mantle, he needs to be put in the team sooner rather than later.

    1. Given that Russel hardly fits into the cockpit (which is part of the survival cell that was kept the same for this year due to cost saving), they would have either have him function only partly the whole season, or would have to actually spend tokens to be able to fit George in @simon999.

      That doesn’t make sense at all

  8. I don’t necessarily see that it needs to change

    does not = I want Bottas to remain as team mate

    The word ‘necessarily’ indicates that this isn’t an absolute (I want, I don’t want), instead it expresses conditionality</em. What we don't know from the quote, and perhaps wouldn't know by asking Hamilton, is what those conditions would be. Correct?

  9. Lewis is a driver, a great one in fact, but he is an employee of AMG Mercedes. They will do what is best for the team and that includes looking at the future. If they wish to remain in the sport and be at the top, they need at least one championship-level driver driving for them. Hamilton is that guy right now, but for how much longer? You got GR waiting in the wings and could potentially nab Ocon or Norris from other teams. Those are three of the future stars (I rate them Norris, Russell, and Ocon in that order) that could be available. I doubt Max will jump and RBR won’t want him to jump because they don’t really have anybody else in the queue. That is, unless they swallow their pride and get either Sainz or Gassly back. Anyway, if I were a ruthless team boss, I would sign Russell and show Bottas the door. I really like Valteri but he isn’t delivering the good, time to give another driver a shot. If Lewis doesn’t like it, well…that’s on him. Mercedes has options and although Hamilton is the best one to lead the team now, he won’t be in the position forever.

    1. I think he and many others are classed as contractors? And while he may have ‘bosses’ they know he is a money making machine for them, besides being a multiple WDC. But I’m sure Ham will go along with whatever Toto decides.
      Ham is going to need all the help he can get this year. He’s not going to win the WDC and WCC on his points alone. So it doesn’t do any harm for Ham to throw Bottas a bone when he is still looking to win the championship this year.

  10. Better announce it sooner than the 2021 contract extension.

  11. The problem is where else does Russell go? There are no openings anywhere else. If they maintain Bottas I mean how short sighted is that, Mercedes need to get Russell into the car in his prime. Not sure if I can take any more talk of Hamilton contract talks anyway, please no!

    1. The problem is where else does Hamilton go?

      The only other real option is retirement.

  12. Lol Lewis, respect.

  13. Lewis is the number one f1 super star he brings the ratings not russell

    1. Your point being? Russell may replace Bottas, not Hamilton.

  14. The headline is misleading. Hamilton did not say he wanted Bottas as his partner, he said according to the report under the headline, “I think he is a fantastic team mate and I don’t necessarily see that it needs to change”.

  15. I wonder if this is why Ocon has locked in at Alpine so early in the season? He was the other Mercedes protégé yet could see into the future and Russell overtaking him for the second Mercedes seat. If that doesn’t happen (with Bottas seemingly a preferred one year deal driver), Russell’s options will be either spend another year at Williams or he would have been looking at the only remaining option where Wolff had some influence – Ocon’s seat at Alpine…

    Canny move by Ocon when you consider his options.

    1. I understand why Ocon signed.
      Not sure why Alpine was in such a hurry.

  16. It’s George’s time.

  17. Hamilton was then asked for “a word on George Russell”, to which he replied: “Doing what?”
    After it was clarified that the question was about potentially being his teammate, Hamilton said: “Well he’s not my teammate currently, so I don’t need to say anything else.”

    You don’t need to be an expert in reading between the lines here… Wonder why it was omitted in the racefans article.

  18. I mean, what else do we expect him to say? I want to see Russell in the car next year? He’s going to say in public he wants whoever his current teammate is until he has a new teammate and then it will be how excited he is for the new teammate to come in. This is Sports Media 101 and is meaningless.

  19. Red Bull need to win 2021 constructors championship. This is only guarantee 2nd Mercedes will drive someone who can extract its potential.

    1. Absolutely, it’s really important.

  20. Russell isn’t a replacement for Bottas. He is there to win championships not to help Mercedes get WCC. I think this year if Mercedes can’t win both championships they need to change at least one of their drivers. But if they can win then it could be bad news for Russell. In the end they need to think about their future. Hamilton can’t be the one who decides no.2 driver even though he is 7 time champion.

    1. Yeah, I think i agree with that reasoning @queki.

  21. What I’ve read is that Hamilton is willing to make several concessions with his contract for some benefits/opportunities with Merc further down the track once he hangs up the helmet for the final time. That won’t be far away I would say three years max. So he may have some say in who his co-driver is and Bottas is not as bad as many like to say. But Hamilton is not a silly man and would see the need for a generational change. I think as long a Bottas is not just cast out with no drive I would say as I’ve said before. Russell in the Merc next year next to Hamilton.

  22. NeverElectric
    24th June 2021, 22:59

    He said the safe thing to say.
    Imagine the headlines had he said “I need Bottas gone”, or words to that effect.
    This forum would be red-hot with incandescent comments about how he’s arrogant, how he’s this, how he’s that and that.
    While Hamilton generally gets slagged no matter what he says, this was the right thing to say given the circumstances and the question in question (no pun int).

  23. I think the headline probably misrepresents what Lewis said.

    He was just being respectful of Valtteri. Probably a lot more than he deserves!

    Freedom for George! Release Russell!

    1. Imola out! Big threats out! Hunted and tracked down! Dealt with immediately!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.