With two champion drivers this season – Hamilton, enjoying a long winning streak, and Nico Rosberg, who shared the podium with his teammate, Mercedes are enjoying a good run at 2015’s Formula One campaign so far. Their key driver, however, is yet to sign a new contract. Hamilton’s contract is currently up for renewal, which initially led to speculation that Ferrari were set to sign him – those rumours, however, were immediately rubbished by Ferrari principal Maurizio Arrivabene and Hamilton himself, who said he was ‘comfortable’ with the new Mercedes cars and enjoyed driving them.
Rosberg signed a multi-year contract only last year, negating any discussion of contract for the time being. When quizzed on the contract at April’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Hamilton had said he “hoped for it to be finalised by the weekend”, describing the negotiations as a “nerve-wracking experience”. Hamilton has been rumoured to have been looking for a significant pay rise – some figures say this is as much as double his current pay of £20million.
It is unclear what other demands the Briton may have made to Mercedes, but there also exists an undercurrent of (real or apparent) rivalry with his teammate, the German Rosberg, who, also fresh off a strong F1 season, is vying for the title of world champion and placed alongside Hamilton on the podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The contract negotiations between Hamilton and Mercedes are, according to team principal Toto Wolff, drawing to a close, with Wolff saying they had “reached beyond the discussion of critical topics.” He denied rumours that Hamilton was looking for some form of superior status within the team, a fact confirmed by teammate Rosberg, who quoted from his own contract, saying “the team follows a philosophy of two completely equal drivers."
Rumours continue to circulate, however, considering that Kimi Raikkonen, who recently returned to the Prancing Horse, is yet to renew his own contract. There is less uncertainty there, however, with Ferrari principal Maurizio Arrivabene indicating he intended to renew Raikkonen’s contract, but had not done so for the sole reason that it created a form of psychological pressure on the Finn to perform well.
Raikkonen placed second at the Bahrain Grand Prix, splitting the two Mercedes teammates.