Seven-time world champion set to stay with the German team until the end of 2023, bringing his run with them to eleven seasons
By Yuri Coghe
Lewis Hamilton isn’t going anywhere.
The reigning seven-time world champion has extended his contract with Mercedes for another two years, the German team announced on Saturday. The new deal will see the British driver staying at least until the end of the 2023 season with the Brackley-based outfit he has found a great deal of success with.
Hamilton, who started his F1 career with McLaren in 2007 and moved to Mercedes in 2013, will be 38 years old at the end of the deal.
“It is hard to believe it’s been nearly nine years working with this incredible team and I’m excited we’re going to continue our partnership for two more years,” said Hamilton in a statement. “We’ve accomplished so much together but we still have a lot to achieve, both on and off the track.”
Mercedes have won every constructors’ and drivers’ championship since 2014, in an unprecedented dominant run.
Hamilton has claimed six of the seven drivers’ honours – only losing out to teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016. Hamilton’s first F1 title came in 2008 during his sophomore season, after an intense fight with Ferrari and Brazilian driver Felipe Massa.
Other than tying Michael Schumacher’s record for most world championships, the British driver holds a number of F1 records, including most poles (100), most wins (98) and most podiums (171). 77 of those race victories and 74 of the pole positions have come in his years with Mercedes.
Off the track work and new challenges
Hamilton, the only Black driver in F1’s history, has been vocal about social issues like police brutality and anti-Black racism, standing up for equality and diversity.
“I’m incredibly proud and grateful of how Mercedes has supported me in my drive to improve diversity and equality in our sport. They have held themselves accountable and made important strides in creating a more diverse team and inclusive environment,” added Hamilton.
He also mentioned the new regulations that are expected to shake up the F1 grid next year, as the cars will be totally new.
“We’re entering a new era of cars which will be challenging and exciting and I can’t wait to see what else we can achieve together,” he said. “Thank you to all the dedicated and talented individuals at Mercedes whose hard work makes it all possible and the Board for their continued trust in me.”
Hamilton’s deal is the third to be announced this season, after Lando Norris’s multi-year deal with McLaren and Esteban Ocon’s three-year extension with Alpine.
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“No better driver to have in our team”
The new era that is set to be introduced next season was also mentioned by Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
“As we enter a new era of F1 from 2022 onwards, there can be no better driver to have in our team than Lewis,” said Wolff in a statement. “His achievements in this sport speak for themselves, and with his experience, speed and race-craft, he is at the peak of his powers.
“We are relishing the battle we have on our hands this year – and that’s why we also wanted to agree this contract early, so we have no distractions from the competition on track. I have always said that as long as Lewis still possesses the fire for racing, he can continue as long as he wants.”
Markus Schäfer, a member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, the company that owns the Mercedes-Benz brand, also praised Hamilton and his accomplishments.
“Lewis’s ambition and commitment for winning, always striving for improvement, have played an essential role for our team and brand to become as successful as we are today,” said Schäfer. “And he is not only a very talented driver but also a socially engaged and caring person who wants to make an impact in society.”
What about the second seat?
Now that Hamilton has put pen to paper on his Mercedes extension, the big question mark on the team’s future is related to their second seat.
Speaking ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix qualifying session on Saturday, Wolff said a decision about Hamilton’s teammate should be made soon.
“That decision is going to be made during the summer, first discussions with George (Russell) and Valtteri (Bottas), and then hopefully we are sorted before the end of the season.”
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Wolff confirmed the job is between Russell, who is seen as one of the most talented youngsters on the grid, and Bottas, who has been with Mercedes since 2017 and hasn’t been delivering the results the German outfit would expect.
“It’s between those two,” Wolff added. “And as I said we value them both for their strengths and for what they can contribute to the team.”