Lewis Hamilton says the contract extension with Mercedes was a lot smoother this time after much was decided ahead of 2021 F1 season, as he added about if it is a distraction and not remembering retirement talk.
Already at the start of the 2021 F1 season, Hamilton and Wolff made it certain that this time they will sort the 2022 deal much earlier. And that they did so, even before the summer break, with a two-year extension to see him through until 2023 with Mercedes.
In fact, Hamilton revealed that the 2021 deal was supposed to be of two years, but they eventually decided to sign the one as the Brit wanted a bit more time to get his head around with the pandemic still raging. The ‘2+1’ kind of became a ‘1+2’ situation.
Hamilton added that the contract was more or less a ‘copy/paste’ thing, with a lot already decided ahead of the 2021 season. Adding more, he stated that it was no-brainier for him to continue, as well, while at his prime and mostly fit for the competition.
“It’s exciting naturally to be continuing,” said Hamilton. “I think last year, and what you’re seeing now, we’re entering into an interesting phase, for me personally, because it’s not just the racing. It’s what’s coming up, it’s the work that we’re doing as a sport in terms of trying to make it a more diverse and inclusive space.
“I’ve been a part of the start of that, and I want to continue forwards with that. I love working with this team, I feel constantly challenged, and I think we’re being challenged more than ever this year, which I think is great. And I love racing. This is what I was born to do. I still feel fit, I still feel as committed as ever. So I didn’t see a reason to stop.
“The signing was a lot smoother than it was in December and January. I had a lot on over Christmas and New Year, it was a stressful period, and naturally we were doing this over Zoom, which is not always the most productive when you’re having these conversations. I think this one was much, much easier.
“Toto and I spent a lot more time together, face to face. I had chosen, the past contract, the one in January, it was meant to be a two-year deal. I was looking, it was potentially going to be a two-year deal, and I asked for then it to be a one-year, because I knew that, obviously we’d been through a pandemic, and there was so much change in the world.
“And also, I was unsure of whether I would continue or not. I started off the year, I had the best and most enjoyable start to the year, enjoyed the roller-coaster ride that we’re having. I think it was really, the best thing was to be able to get this done before the summer break, which is obviously next month. So now we can just focus on being the best team we could be,” summed up Hamilton.
Regarding the retirement topic, which Wolff hinted on when speaking about the new deal, Hamilton was a bit lost, as he couldn’t remember if that part of discussion was done. The Brit also clarified if contract talks has ever been a distraction for him or not.
“Firstly, I don’t remember honestly, I’ve got a really bad memory, so I don’t remember all the conversations we had, I don’t remember bringing retirement up,” said Hamilton. “But if he says we spoke about it, then we must have. But obviously it’s not the most important thing for me, in terms of my current mindset. I don’t find it as a distraction.
“I think in the past, I remember times, we didn’t want to do it during the season because yeah, it’s stressful to have those conversations. But it’s been a much, much better process this time, and it’s happened real quick. Toto was fantastic in the negotiations. Ola and the board have been incredibly supportive.
“And you know, we’ve just continued to grow in our relationship and how we communicate, and making sure that we’re aligned. It’s a great commitment from them and I think a great commitment from myself to continue to stay aligned with Mercedes, knowing the things that we’re facing, the changes and improvements we can make,” summed up Hamilton.
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