Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a positive display at the Australian Grand Prix with his first podium finish of the season, but his exorbitant salary demand has reportedly made Mercedes reconsider his contract extension.
Hamilton’s current deal at Mercedes runs till the end of the current season and the seven-time world champion has affirmed his allegiance to the Silver Arrows often in the past.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff had suggested that getting Hamilton to sign a contract extension was his top priority during the off-season.
However, little movement has been made since then, with Wolff even claiming that it was a mere matter of finding the correct number of 0’s in the British driver’s contract.
Given the fact that Hamilton is in the twilight of his career, monetary matters would naturally be of high relevance to the Stevenage-born driver.
Some believe that he is only stalling on signing a deal with Mercedes for beyond the current season because he wants to see if they can bridge the gap to Red Bull.
Hamilton’s desire to win an eighth world champion is known to all and while Mercedes doesn’t look all that likely to offer him a realistic chance of that this season, he may want to see if the team is moving in the right direction before committing his future.
In all likelihood, any deal Hamilton signs at this point could be his last in the sport, so a number of factors need to be accounted for.
His aura in the sport almost certainly makes one believe that he would be a great marketable asset to any team, but his slary demands seem to have caught Mercedes off guard.
Times newspaper correspondent Matthew Syed believes there are “many Hamilton detractors” at Mercedes who are keen for a replacement to be signed to partner George Russell.
This particular group within the team believes that Russell’s exceptional performances since joining the team proves that he is ready to carry the team forward along with a young partner.
Hamilton had previously spoken about how Russell got “lucky” during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix owing to selecting the right set-up and that he generally almost always got it wrong.
Interestingly, Russell responded to this subtle dig, claiming that it had nothing to do with luck.
“I don’t think there’s any luck in it at all,” Russell said.
“I think it’s down to the preparation you put in before the event.”
The Times correspondent Syed elaborated Russell’s thoughts further.
In his column, he wrote: “It is possible that Mercedes may end the relationship (with Hamilton) at the end of this season, given the expense of his contract.”
Meanwhile, former F1 driver Anthony Davidson has urged Hamilton to stick it out at Mercedes and not make any hasty decision.
“I’d be very surprised if he joined another team,” Davidson said.
“I’d be more surprised to see him change teams than walk away. But he says it with some conviction that he will carry on until he gets that eighth title.
“I’d say ‘don’t have a knee-jerk reaction like Fernando Alonso in the past’, which hasn’t worked out well for him until now.
“Just put faith in the team that they can turn it around.”