Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has confirmed that Lewis Hamilton’s contract is a priority for both him and the team during the off-season, but he may not remain the team’s number 1 driver.
Hamilton currently has a deal that runs till the end of next season, but Mercedes is keen for the seven-time world champion to pen an extension well ahead of time.
Hamilton himself has expressed interest in staying at Mercedes for up to four to five years beyond his current deal.
This is a far cry from the time when the Stevenage-born racer had confessed to thinking about pursuing a career outside F1 in the entertainment industry.
Hamilton signed a contract extension with Mercedes in July even though he wasn’t having the best of seasons.
Max Verstappen stormed to his second successive world championship while Hamilton had to deal with not managing to win a single race throughout the campaign.
It was undoubtedly a bitter experience for Hamilton, who would have hoped to extract revenge for the cruel manner in which he lost out of the 2021 title.
In conversation with Beyond the Grid podcast, Wolff said, “Well, the job list is pretty long in what is needed to be done.
“But certainly, Lewis’ contract is one of the topics that we will tackle over the winter. But there is no firm deadline.”
Wolff was then asked if he was confident Hamilton would sign on the dotted line.
“Absolutely. Lewis is part of the team and the team is part of Lewis. There is no reason to not continue.”
While it wasn’t a great season for Hamilton, Wolff remained confident that the 37-year-old would perform better next term.
“I think one of his strengths is that he is always hungry, he is always eager,” said Wolff.
“He is a great sportsman but he is also someone who is extremely driven and determined.”