Lewis Hamilton contract: Mercedes to make announcement over £70m new deal ‘this week’

F1: How Hamilton compares to Schumacher

Lewis Hamilton’s new contract will be announced by Mercedes imminently and possibly as early as the first half of this week, according to reports. The Briton is said to have agreed a one-year deal with the option of an extra year. His new deal will keep him in Formula One until at least the end of this season and guarantees him a seat until 2023, provided the option to extend is taken up.

The 36-year-old has been a free agent since the end of December and talks about extending his association with Brackley-based Mercedes, which will enter its ninth season, have dragged on ever since.

But F1 Insider say that an announcement will be made soon and maybe even by Wednesday, with Mercedes having already confirmed Hamilton’s extension will be certified by March 2, when they unveil their W12 car for the 2021 season.

It is claimed the seven-time world champion, who can break Michael Schumacher’s record this year and become the only eight-time Drivers’ Championship winner ever, will be paid around £35million a year with his new deal.

If Hamilton activates the one-year option in his contract to stay through the 2022 season, that means he will net £70million from the Silver Arrows alone.

Forbes’ 2020 list of highest-paid athletes had Hamilton, as of May last year, earning £39m ($54m) from his salary including bonuses and endorsements.

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As part of negotiations, Hamilton has the advertising space on his race helmet and overalls to sell, which will further swell his income.

Former F1 driver Eddie Jordan told F1 Insider: “Lewis is the superstar of the scene. Formula One absolutely needs him.

“Asking for ten percent of the team’s revenue is absurd, you can’t do that because everyone is replaceable. But for Lewis, for example, to get a share of the TV money, I think that’s perfectly justifiable.

“He sells Formula One by far the most worldwide. I also think it’s good that he has the right to market himself.

“For example, he lured a top sponsor like Tommy Hilfiger to Mercedes. For that, any ordinary agent would have gotten ten per cent.”

Meanwhile speaking to Italian outlet Sportweek, La Gazzetta dello Sport’s weekly magazine, Hamilton recently admitted it would be “huge” to surpass Schumacher and clinch an eighth world title.

He said: “The eighth world title would be a huge thing. I can’t even fathom the number, but that’s what I’m focusing all my efforts on.

“I expect a tough year, I can assure you. Red Bull showed that they are very strong in 2020.”

But former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has criticised Hamilton amid reports the Mercedes driver has had a clause inserted in his new contract that allows him to veto any team decisions regarding who partners him for the Silver Arrows.

Valtteri Bottas is his current partner but there have been suggestions Mercedes could replace the Finn with promising upstart George Russell for 2022 and beyond.

Ecclestone said: “Michael [Schumacher] didn’t even need a contract clause for that. He was the clear No 1, with him Ferrari wanted to return to the glory days.

“That’s why Jean Todt always asked him in advance whom he would like as a team-mate. Michael could live well with Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa.

“If Michael had objected, they wouldn’t have ended up at Ferrari. I would have made it quite clear to Lewis – either you take what we offer you now or you leave it.

“Everyone is replaceable. Only one person decides who drives here and that’s me. In 1983 we [Brabham] became World Champion with Nelson Piquet. I had to decide who would drive alongside him in 1984.

“We had an extremely good test with a young Brazilian driver called Ayrton Senna. I wanted him.

“When Nelson heard about it, he really got upset and reacted like a defiant child. He absolutely did not want Senna as a team-mate. He immediately recognised his potential. But I didn’t care.”

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