Lewis Hamilton‘s contract situation at Mercedes may not be settled for another six weeks. Hamilton once again blew away his rivals to clinch a record-equalling seventh world championship last season, placing himself among the greatest drivers in F1 history.
Despite being 35 years of age, Hamilton still appears to be at the top of his game and it’s more than likely he will retire before any drop off in performances.
That isn’t expected to come too soon though with Hamilton already previously admitting he wants to drive in F1 under the new regulations, which come into play in 2022.
The Brit also stated on multiple occasions throughout last season that he wanted to get the year out of the way before starting negotiations on a new contract, with his current deal expiring before the 2021 campaign starts.
Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff appears to be relaxed about the situation, although he did set a deadline for a contract agreement to be made ahead of pre-season testing in March.
“We are not worried about eventually getting it done,” he said last month.
“We are not putting a special date to it because we don’t want to be under pressure.
“Sooner or later it needs to be done and at the latest before we go testing [ahead of the 2021 season].”
Pre-season testing is scheduled to start on March 2 and will run over three days at Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
But it will only be a matter of weeks before teams begin unveiling their cars for the 2021 season, with last year’s models being revealed in mid-February.
Teams usually have both drivers in attendance at the unveiling, suggesting Hamilton’s contract may well have to be announced in the next four-to-five weeks.
A recent post on Twitter from Mercedes’ official account s all-but confirmed an announcement was imminent which carried the hashtag ‘announce’ followed by a ‘soon’ emoji.
The post also had quotes from Hamilton following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where he said: “I plan to be here next year; I want to be here next year.
“I think us, as a team, have more to do together and more to achieve both in the sport but even more outside the sport I think.”
His comments suggest an agreement is not far from being announced with Mercedes looking to win their eighth consecutive constructors’ championship.
But Red Bull are expected to put up a much tougher fight this upcoming season with Sergio Peres replacing Alex Albon.
Max Verstappen proved to be Mercedes’ closest challenger last season and the Dutchman almost pipped Valtteri Bottas to second in the championship standings.
Albon meanwhile struggled to replicate his team-mates performances and Perez is expected to provide a much stronger test for Mercedes.