Six-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton will meet with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff on Tuesday to discuss terms on a massive new contract amid reports linking the English driver with a switch to rival team Ferrari.
Wolff admitted in November that there was a “25 percent chance” that his star man could join Ferrari upon the expiration of his contract but with Hamilton due at the team’s Brackley headquarters this week in advance of their car launch on Friday and the Mercedes chief is eager for progressive movement on a new deal – with reports stating that Hamilton could be in line to earn as much as $232 million.
“We saw each other in the changing room before our Christmas party mid December, and I said ‘we have to go talk’,” Wolff was quoted as saying.
“Lewis said to me, ‘we have no rush anyway because this is what we both want to do’ and I said ‘I agree with you’.
“We texted over the holidays regularly. And came to the conclusion that it’s the unspoken thing that we leave each other in peace over January. We are all over each other during the season so it was to keep that space.“
Hamilton, 35, has been a member of the Mercedes team since 2013, winning five world championships under their banner. However, speculation persists that Hamilton could opt for a new challenge, much like he did when he joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2012.
A new contract would significantly eclipse the $51 million per year deal Hamilton is currently on but Wolff suggests that upping the pay for their team’s biggest asset is a worthwhile investment.
“I will give 100% to make sure we have the best lineup in 2021. Lewis is the number one priority,” Wolff said.
“There is plenty of time to sit down. I’m in no way stressed out at not having a signature on the dotted line because, if that is the case, it simply means we haven’t yet come to the conclusion of our discussion and I am optimistic we will.”
Forbes listed Hamilton as being the 13th best paid sportsperson in the world in 2019, ahead of the likes of Anthony Joshua, Conor McGregor and Rory McIlroy, but a new contract – from whoever strikes a deal with the talented driver – would likely push him into the top ten.
Last year’s three top earners globally are all footballers, with Lionel Messi taking first place ahead of perennial rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.