Lewis Hamilton has agreed a new one-year contract with Mercedes.
The seven-time world champion’s previous contract expired at the end of last season and talks had been ongoing since before Christmas, but team principal Toto Wolff stated last month that the pair kept throwing “curveballs” at their lawyers. Now an agreement has been reached that is the shortest of Hamilton’s career as it only covers the coming season, but it allows him to go for a record-breaking eighth drivers’ title.
A key feature of the new contract is the creation of a joint charitable foundation between Hamilton and Mercedes that is designed to provide support for greater inclusion and diversity in motorsport. Hamilton was a leading voice in that push within Formula 1 last year, and says it was an important aspect for him in the latest negotiations.
“I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates,” Hamilton said. “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.
“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.”
While also keen to highlight the importance of the pair’s aligned interests on diversity, Wolff says a key motivation is for Hamilton to continue setting new records with Hamilton.
“We have always been aligned with Lewis that we would continue, but the very unusual year we had in 2020 meant it took some time to finish the process,” Wolff said. “Together, we have decided to extend the sporting relationship for another season and to begin a longer-term project to take the next step in our shared commitment to greater diversity within our sport.
“Lewis’s competitive record stands alongside the best the sports world has ever seen, and he is a valued ambassador for our brand and our partners. The story of Mercedes and Lewis has written itself into the history books of our sport over the past eight seasons, and we are hungry to compete and to add more chapters to it.”
Mercedes F1 non-executive chairman Markus Schafer further reiterated the alignment between Hamilton’s and Mercedes’ values, and reinforced the company’s commitment to F1.
“Lewis is not only an incredibly talented driver; he also works very hard for his achievements and is extremely hungry,” Schafer said. “He shares his passion for performance with the entire team, which is why this collaboration has become so successful.
“But Lewis is also a warm-hearted personality who cares deeply about the world around him and wants to make an impact. As a company, we share this sense of responsibility. Opening the series to under-represented groups will be important for the sport’s development in the future and we’re determined to make an impact.”
Schafer is also a Daimler board member, and after a year in which INEOS became an equal-third shareholder in the F1 team alongside Toto Wolff, the German said the company’s commitment to the sport has not wavered.
“2020 was a difficult year for Formula 1, but we’re happy the series was able to go racing and produce a thrilling season,” he said. “Despite the challenges, we were able to not only defend both championship titles, but also make some very important strategic decisions for the future of the team.
“We’ve aligned the sustainability efforts of our Mercedes works team more closely with those of Daimler, both in terms of the environmental impact and the economic value for the team’s shareholders. The closer collaboration between our F1 team and our performance division AMG creates an exciting opportunity for both sides, and will take our technology transfer from the race track to the road to the next level.
“Formula 1 is one of our biggest global marketing platforms and the steps we’ve taken in the last 12 months ensure that this platform stays highly attractive for us. We remain strongly committed to the sport and are excited to see what the future holds for our Mercedes works team.”