Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have announced a deal for 2021 – but not beyond that.
It will be Hamilton’s ninth season with the team, during which time he has won six World Championships. The deal includes a joint commitment to diversity will take the form of a joint charitable foundation, which will support greater diversity and inclusion in all its forms in motorsport.
“I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates,” Hamilton said. “Our team has achieved incredible things together and we look forward to building on our success even further, while continuously looking to improve, both on and off the track.
“I’m equally determined to continue the journey we started to make motorsport more diverse for future generations and I am grateful that Mercedes has been extremely supportive of my call to address this issue. I’m proud to say we are taking that effort further this year by launching a foundation dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the sport. I am inspired by all that we can build together and can’t wait to get back on the track in March.”
What is interesting is that the deal is just for one season, which was not expected. It had been thought that Lewis would agree to another three years. Having said that, there is no real need for him to commit in the longer term as the team will obviously still want him in 2022 and so year-by-year deals make sense for him. This will allow him to set a new record for F1 World Championships, if he can win again, with eight, compared to Michael Schumacher’s seven. If he then chooses to retire to do other things this allows him that possibility. Mercedes will not be short of replacement candidates if that happens…
The only odd things is that the 2022 season will be a new formula with new cars and it might have been logical for Lewis to commit to the first season and then decide whether to stay on move on, if Mercedes is no longer dominant.
“We have always been aligned with Lewis that we would continue,” said Toto Wolff, “but the very unusual year we had in 2020 meant it took some time to finish the process. Together, we have decided to extend the sporting relationship for another season and to begin a longer-term project to take the next step in our shared commitment to greater diversity within our sport. Lewis’s competitive record stands alongside the best the sports world has ever seen, and he is a valued ambassador for our brand and our partners. The story of Mercedes and Lewis has written itself into the history books of our sport over the past eight seasons, and we are hungry to compete and to add more chapters to it.”