Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he has “had a first chat” with Lewis Hamilton about his contract to drive for the team.
Hamilton has previously left his contract status unsettled beyond the end of a season, leading him to ink a one-year deal ahead of the 2021 championship. But Wolff believes a new deal should be straightforward to arrange.
“We’ve done a few of these contracts in the past and they change little from iteration to iteration, so it’s not usually complex apart from the obvious terms,” he told media including RaceFans at the launch of the team’s new W14 chassis.
“We’ve had a first chat. But I don’t want to commit to any timeline because it’s not important for him nor for us at that stage. It runs a full year and we’re going to find the right time.”
Hamilton goes into the 2023 F1 season as the second-oldest driver on the grid but Wolff says his age will not be a barrier to a multi-year contract extension.
“I think the age, 38, plays no role for this next contract,” Wolff stated. “If you look at how well top athletes in the world have pushed the boundaries, I’m thinking about [American footballer] Tom Brady, who is 45, and he’s on the pitch throwing a ball and being tackled. So the age plays no role.
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“In terms of the contractual situation. I think we’ve always found good solutions that reflect his value for the team and for the sport. And on the other side, I think Mercedes is the place he wants to be. So these things have never been a contentious point.”
“The alignment is great,” between Hamilton and Mercedes, said Wolff. “And like in the years before, I think it’s caused more hysteria with [some in the media] that we didn’t announce anything. But within us it was no problem to sort things out over the winter before actually going racing because it was always clear that we were going to do that.
“It’s almost like not like a first priority in sitting down, because this is going to be a journey that we’ll continue.”
Hamilton confirmed he remains confident in Mercedes’ potential to win championships again after experiencing his first win-less season last year. “I don’t feel like I need them to prove to me. I think we’ve proved time and time again over the years that we have strength in depth.
“We still have all these incredibly talented individuals within the team. You don’t lose that ability. We’re continuing to try to improve our processes, and we’re continuing to try to be smarter in how we approach things, and with our communication. I think there’s the best harmony within the team that I’ve seen in all these years.”
He said he was encouraged to see Mercedes had brought in new staff during the off-season. “We’ve got a real fresh young group of engineers and people that have just come into the team over the past year,” he said. “So it’s an exciting time for the team and I don’t plan on being anywhere else.”
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