Four-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has penned his latest deal with works team Mercedes, agreeing to sign with the Silver Arrows for another two years. His new contract is understood to be worth over £ 40 million ($71 million AUD) per year.
Timing perfectly with their home Grand Prix in Hockenheim this weekend, the agreement is the highest value signing in Formula 1 history as well as in British sport. The move locks in both Mercedes drivers for the 2019 season with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas also agreeing to a one-year contract extension with the option for 2020, the same as the current contract he signed for 2018.
Plenty of rumours up and down the paddock suggested why it was taking so unusually long for Hamilton to resign a contract for his future with pundits speculating there was a dispute between whether Hamilton could keep his championship-winning cars and not have to commit to as many PR engagements as in previous years. These look to be fixed up now, with Hamilton expressing his delight on Thursday.
“This contract extension has basically been a formality since Toto and I sat down during the winter, so it’s good to put pen to paper, announce it and then get on with business as usual,” he said.
“I have been part of the Mercedes racing family for 20 years and I have never been happier inside a team than I am right now. We are on the same wavelength both on and off track.”
“We have been aligned with Lewis ever since we first sat down to discuss the details of this contract after last season,” revealed Mercedes Executive Director and Team Principal Toto Wolff.
“There has understandably been a lot of interest and speculation around the whole process, so it’s good to put all of that to rest and get this thing announced.”
Mercedes’ signings this week now only leave question marks over two more of the ‘big six’ drivers.
Daniel Ricciardo is yet to sign on for a team next year, although is it somewhat likely he will re-sign with Red Bull Racing after struggling to keep rivals Mercedes and Ferrari interested with a blistering start to the season.
Meanwhile, Kimi Räikkönen is still open for negotiation with potential opportunities at Ferrari next season on a one-year contract. The 2007 World Champion, which he won with Ferrari, has been agreeing to single-season contracts each year since he returning to the Maranello squad from Lotus in 2014.
Reports also suggested at the Austrian Grand Prix that his management was in talks with McLaren, however the 38-year old quickly threw a blanket over these suggestions explaining he has “zero interest” in the “nonsense” about his Formula 1 future.
Räikkönen currently sits third in this year’s championship standings with a hefty gap behind the raging battle between Hamilton and Ferrari main-man Sebastian Vettel. Vettel, who is locked in at Ferrari also until 2020, holds a handy eight-point gap to the Brit ahead of his home Grand Prix this weekend in Hockenheim.
Images via Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport