Formula One

Analysis: Hamilton’s New Contract

Lewis Hamilton. 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, Sunday - LAT Images. Picture from Mercedes Media Archives.

As most of you probably already know, Lewis Hamilton (36) finally signed a one-year contract extension with Mercedes. For the past several months, two parties have caused numerous speculations regarding the deal. Their unusual delay kept on fueling the rumors, as many even believed that Mercedes might not sign the reigning champion for the upcoming season. Nevertheless, the short-term contract is here, and we cannot ignore it any longer. In fact, no one should. Hence, here are some discussion points to consider when thinking about what would it be like to have Hamilton on the grid in 2021:

ANOTHER MICHAEL SCHUMACHER RECORD IS IN DANGER – It is no secret that Hamilton wants that 8th title. In all fairness, who wouldn’t? As a driver, you have done the “impossible” by matching Michael’s long-standing achievement. Now all you need is just one more successful season to set the new standard. Could this happen in 2021? Yes, indeed. Mercedes’ dominance in 2020 was by far their strongest, leaving almost no hopes for everyone else to challenge the lead. Therefore, the similar cars and rules for the upcoming season open just the perfect opportunity for Hamilton to attack.

IT TOOK LONGER THAN IT SHOULD HAVE – The news for Lewis’ signature broke on February 8 – only about a week away from McLaren’s car reveal date! Most teams and drivers, including the champions, would have their immediate future sorted out in December. Not this time, though. Considering the discrete matters of a contract like that, we might never really understand why exactly it took them so long to officiate it. Some said “It’s the money”, others insisted on “time” being the issue. Yet, at this point numbers and clauses no longer matter as much for this season. The situation, however, is likely to impact the post-2021  future of the two parties. Objectively, no reason to believe that future contracts between Hamilton and Mercedes will come as easily as several years ago.

GEORGE RUSSELL NEEDS A MIGHTY GOOD SEASON – The Williams diver might not remain a Williams driver for much longer. Just like everyone else, George is in Formula One to challenge podiums, victories, and even titles. Unfortunately, Williams’ performance has been anything but hopeful for anything more than a potential top-10 finish (or two). What has become more likely, however, is the possibility of George joining the Mercedes team anytime soon. The question is, would he replace Bottas or Hamilton? We cannot be sure just yet. There have been talks regarding Hamilton’s position on whether he wants Russell to be his teammate in the future. Some even believed that Mercedes might opt for going on a budget and signing George for Lewis’ seat. Well, it did not happen. What could happen is George’s opportunity to replace Hamilton in 2022, in case he retires or fails to extend the deal with Mercedes. Ultimately, Russell’s focus should fall on forcing Mercedes into weighing their 2022 decision more thoroughly.

VALTTERI AND MAX – THEIR TITLE CHANCES COMPROMISED – At this point, probably not all that high. Bottas’ supporting role in the team was established long ago. Unfortunately for his fans, it would be highly unlikely for Mercedes to actually let their drivers race without prioritizing either. Nevertheless, it seems like Bottas always performs the strongest at the very beginning of each season. What he needs then is to start on a high again and keep up the momentum as long as possible. Lewis is not going to make it easy on him. On top of that, Bottas also has to consider Max Verstappen’s challenge to both Mercedes drivers. In 2020, the Red Bull star had yet another great season, which made him even more experienced. Despite his talent, his machinery was not quite there yet. On a positive note, Red Bull have indicated further car development for this year. Yet, having Hamilton in a Mercedes for another season might push Verstappen’s real chances for the crown a little further down the road. We can at least hope that Max and Sergio will get good enough equipment to put on a great racing show.

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