Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton is discussing a new contract with Mercedes, but Hamilton’s demands could see the talented Brit left high and dry. According to press reports, Hamilton wants a five-year £250 million contract, which would make him 43 years old when it ended.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff had previously stated he believed it would only take 30 minutes over a cup of coffee for Mercedes and Hamilton to thrash out a new deal. Wolff has changed his tune and now thinks contract negotiations may take months. The money Hamilton is demanding is not an issue for Mercedes, but the length of the contract could be a significant stumbling block.
There was a time when anyone wanting to learn how to bet profitably on F1 online would immediately back Hamilton to win the current Grand Prix. Hamilton holds the record for the most Formula 1 victories (103), most pole positions (103), and most podium finishes (193). However, Mercedes has seen its car fall way behind Oracle Red Bull Racing, leaving Hamilton unable to compete with the rising star that is Max Verstappen.
The George Russell Factor
Mercedes also have George Russell on their books. The 25-year-old British driver is an up-and-coming star living in Hamilton’s shadow. It is believed Russell is content with playing second fiddle to Hamilton for a couple more years, but it is unlikely he will want to continue being Mercedes’ number two going into 2028.
So where does this leave Hamilton and his five-year contract demands? Ferrari is rumoured to be keeping a close eye on the situation as they look to return to their former glories. Current drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are brilliant drivers in their own right, but they probably will never challenge for a Drivers’ Championship in the famous red Ferrari.
Although there is no doubting Hamilton’s ability, many believe that the Ferraris are not competitive enough to mount a serious title challenge even with Hamilton behind the wheel. Red Bull will not be coming in for Hamilton any time soon, so his best chance of capturing his eighth Drivers’ Championship is to stay with Mercedes. Hamilton is desperate to win an eighth title because he is currently tied on seven with the legendary Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton’s age a significant factor
Hamilton is 38, making him the second-oldest Formula 1 driver this season, behind only 41-year-old Fernando Alonso. Hamilton was 35 when he won his seventh Drivers’ Championship title in 2020, which made him the only 35-year-old to become a world champion since Schumacher in 2004.
Damon Hill won in 1996, aged 36, Alain Prost won in 1993, aged 38, and Nigel Mansell was 39 when he became the 1992 champion. One must go all the way back to 1966 when Australian Jack Brabham clinched the title to find a world champion aged 40 or over. Time is not on Hamilton’s side.
Age aside, Hamilton’s Mercedes cannot keep up the same pace as the lightning-fast Red Bulls. Hamilton worked wonders to achieve nine podium finished in 2022 while finishing sixth in the Driver’s Championship standings.
Hamilton has two runner-up finishes from seven Grand Prix this season (not counting Canada or Austria), making the British superstar without an outright Grand Prix victory since he finished first in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 5, 2021.
The most likely outcome is that the contract negotiations continue for several months before Hamilton and Mercedes compromise. It would not be surprising to learn they agree on a two or three-year deal with the possibility of extending for a further two years if both Hamilton and the car are still competitive on the track.