Lewis Hamilton says talks have started between himself and Mercedes regarding a new contract for next season onwards.
Both Mercedes drivers are currently out of contract at the end of 2021, with Hamilton only signing a one-year extension in February after his previous deal had expired. He has previously stated his desire to avoid a similar situation where his future is uncertain over the winter, and talks with Mercedes have now begun for 2022. The world champion said he would like to see Valtteri Bottas remain alongside him.
“We have begun discussions,” Hamilton said. “Not a lot to say too much…. We have started discussions and things are positive. And yep, Valtteri is my teammate now and both of us have had ups and downs in our careers but he’s a fantastic teammate and I don’t necessarily see that it needs to change.”
Hamilton’s comments came after his team principal Toto Wolff told ESPN that no decision has been made over who would be paired with him next year and no talks have taken place with either Bottas or George Russell, although he admits the second seat is a straight fight between the two.
“That’s the charm of the situation,” Wolff said. “(Bottas’) future is in his hands — it only comes down to his driving. We need a combination of the two best drivers in the team and there is no doubt that we love Valtteri from a personality standpoint, what he adds to the team, and he needs to put in the performances — that is what counts.
“We have always been very transparent with him, and I think that is most important — be transparent with your drivers. There is no hidden agenda. The seat in the Mercedes (for 2022) is between Valtteri and George and it’s a decision that we need to take in the best interest of the team.”
Wolff adds that he can’t see a situation where Hamilton leaves Mercedes, despite the short contract he signed for this year.
“Our relationship between the team and him feels so natural today, through highs and lows. I cannot imagine us and him going in separate directions next year.”