Hamil­ton and Mercedes begin con­tract talks

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

You’d ex­pect the reign­ing driv­ers’ cham­pion to stick with the reign­ing con­struc­tors’ cham­pion. But it may not be so sim­ple…

Reign­ing world cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton has be­gun ne­go­ti­a­tions over a new con­tract that could keep him at Mercedes be­yond 2015.

On the sur­face, a new deal seems a for­mal­ity. Hamil­ton says he wants to stay and the team say they want to keep him. And there are no avail­able al­ter­na­tives who are any­where near ap­proach­ing the cal­i­bre of Hamil­ton.

The only per­son who ts that de­scrip­tion is Fer­nando Alonso. But he is un­der con­tract for three years at McLaren and, ac­cord­ing to chair­man Ron Den­nis, there are no get-out clauses. Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, who im­pressed in 2014, is locked into Red Bull for some time, ac­cord­ing to team prin­ci­pal Chris­tian Horner. And Se­bas­tian Vet­tel is a less ap­peal­ing prospect, hav­ing been de­mol­ished by Ric­cia­rdo in 2014, and now hav­ing a three-year deal with Fer­rari.

But things are not as sim­ple as they seem. For one thing, Hamil­ton and Mercedes had agreed they would wait un­til the 2014 cham­pi­onship was over be­fore start­ing talks, to avoid dis­rupt­ing his cam­paign. But noth­ing hap­pened un­til the rst pre-sea­son test in Fe­bru­ary. So ne­go­ti­a­tions could con­tinue through­out 2015.

Talks will not be plain sail­ing. Hamil­ton has just taken a dom­i­nant world ti­tle win and knows that his global im­pact for Mercedes’ brand far out­strips that which any other driver could pro­vide, with only Alonso com­ing close.

On those grounds, he could ask for a pay rise to take him above the $31m salary, plus bonuses, he has been re­ceiv­ing. Mercedes, mean­while, are keen to keep costs down and will want to keep the money the same, if not re­duce it a bit.

At the same time, hav­ing split with XIX En­ter­tain­ment, Hamil­ton is han­dling the talks him­self, a prospect he de­scribes as a “huge chal­lenge”, while adding that he is “Thirty now. I am my own man, I know my worth”.

Then there is the mat­ter of whether Alonso re­ally is locked in at McLaren. If the team strug­gle, will he be able to re­sist the chance to drive a Mercedes as­sum­ing it is still on win­ning form? Alonso earns $40m a year with McLaren, but it’s claimed he would have signed with Mercedes for half of that last au­tumn.

Wolff, then, has a strong ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion. If Hamil­ton has too many de­mands, Wolff can make an of­fer and say “Take it or leave it – and if you leave it, Alonso will sign for $20m.” But if Hamil­ton nds him­self on the way to an­other ti­tle, might he fancy a new chal­lenge? Per­haps at Fer­rari, where Kimi Räikkö­nen will be out of con­tract? This could prove in­ter­est­ing.

Might Hamil­ton turn his back on Mercedes if they won’t agree to his salary de­mands?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.