MOTORING NEWS

Fans punch the air with joy as Hamilton extends contract with Mercedes F1

The world champion’s previous deal had run out at the end of 2020, and the lack of a fresh agreement had prompted wild talk that he could turn his back on F1.

But on Monday, Mercedes announced that Hamilton would be staying for the 2021 season.

“I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates. 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,” he said.

“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.”

Hamilton first joined Mercedes in 2013, and has won six of the last seven world championships since 2014. The only year he lost out was in 2016 when teammate Nico Rosberg beat him before announcing his shock retirement.

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s mentor and Mercedes race boss Toto Wollf is pleased the contract has been finalised, reports Sydney MORWENG.

Wolff, who has overseen six of Hamilton’s seven championships, also admitted Mercedes must acknowledge life after their superstar driver.

“Lewis needs to decide what his future holds for him so I wouldn’t want to comment on where he stands (in 2022),” said Wolff.

“On the other side, the team needs to decide long-term what we are going to do about our drivers.

“Valtteri (Bottas) and Lewis have our 100 per cent commitment and loyalty for 2021. We will support them with everything we have. We will then look beyond this year and say what is the line-up that we imagine in 2022 and onwards?

“Our first discussion will be with Valtteri and Lewis in respecting our values of loyalty and integrity, but on the other side, the young drivers are the future and we need to consider how we want to set ourselves up for the years beyond.

“As long as Lewis enjoys racing he is very capable of going longer. He looks after himself, physically and mentally, so I don’t think in terms of ability that ends in 2021. But in the end, it is his decision.”

Hamilton who turns (36) in 2022, and knighted in the New Year Honours, has been in the unusual situation of being out of contract since his £40million-a-year deal expired on the final day of December.

The 2021 F1 fixture revs off in March.

Image (Friends for life. Lewis Hamilton and boss Toto Wolff).

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