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Why Lewis Hamilton needs to sign the contract fast

Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix (Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix (Getty Images)
ANALYST
Modified 27 Jan 2021
Feature

6 world titles, numerous race victories and pole positions, and 7 years of battling at the front of the grid. For a neutral party, it's hard to understand what stops Lewis Hamilton from signing an extension with Mercedes. He's already the highest-paid driver on the grid. He drives the fastest car by some margin. And in Valtteri Bottas, he has a teammate who is not a challenge for him.

Unless Mercedes offers Hamilton less than what he currently draws and puts Bottas in the better car, there shouldn't be objections. And we've not heard anything about this in all the rumors. Mercedes is not selling him short. All that has come out has been on the lines of Mercedes unwilling to fulfill Hamilton's demands.

Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of beating Michael Schumacher
Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of beating Michael Schumacher's record

Hamilton currently holds 7 world titles. And if he drives for Mercedes in 2021, the 8th world title and the record are almost guaranteed, especially with Bottas as his partner.

At 36, Hamilton doesn't have many years left. Although he's still one of the best on the grid, it's hard to disagree that he's in the twilight of his career. At this stage why not just sign the contract, drive the fastest car, and still be the highest-paid driver?

You have to question why Lewis Hamilton thinks he deserves a lot more. Does he bring an unmatched level of performance? Yes. Has he, in times of pressure, won Mercedes races that any other driver on the grid couldn't? Yes. Is he the best driver on the grid? Probably. 

The Mercedes car is the class of the field

But at the same time, the most important question is: will any other driver on the grid win the championship in that Mercedes? The answer again is yes. Case in point, Valtteri Bottas finished as the runner up in the last two seasons despite putting together, at best, mediocre performances.

Such has been the dominance of Mercedes that Bottas was able to beat the likes of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, who are much better drivers, in the previous seasons.

Sure, with the change in regulations in 2022, Mercedes might need Lewis Hamilton. But what Hamilton doesn't sign the contract, and they approach... say... Verstappen? No driver on the grid would say no to a Mercedes drive right now.

Lewis Hamilton couldn
Lewis Hamilton couldn't challenge for the tile with an uncompetitive car from 2009-2013

And that's something Hamilton needs to understand. Formula One Championships have been determined by the machinery since long. Even Hamilton knows this. He suffered from 2009-13 when he didn't have a great car. He didn't have the machinery to compete for the title. Then he reaped the benefits when he drove Mercedes, the fastest car on the grid from 2014-2020.

The only reason for the stand-off between the team and the driver is because of the relationship Hamilton enjoys with Toto Wolff and Wolff's insistence on sticking with Hamilton.

But if the demands made by Hamilton are outrageous, we could see a repeat of what happened at Williams in the early 90s. They replaced their World Champion driver with another one for two successive years. If Williams could do it to Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost, then Mercedes could do the same to Lewis Hamilton.

Williams replaced Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost after they won the titles
Williams replaced Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost after they won the titles

Hamilton needs to realize that Mercedes brings a bigger hammer in this standoff. And if he doesn't sign, he's at a massive loss. At 36 years of age, Lewis needs to wake up and smell (or listen) to the roses. They're telling him to sign the contract, enjoy his reign at the top, and then drive off into the sunset.

9 years ago, in 2012 Hamilton made a decision that changed his career by joining Mercedes. In 2021, let's hope he swallows his pride and signs the dotted line.

Published 24 Jan 2021
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