Wolff explains one-year Hamilton deal, rubbishes ‘Verstappen clause’

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

After Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton finally announced a new deal for 2021, Toto Wolff took the opportunity to rubbish some persistent rumours.

It’s finally done, Lewis Hamilton will drive for Mercedes for at least one more year. There was a lot of talk about the length of the seven-time champ’s new deal, but ultimately the two parties agreed to a one-year extension.

“We jointly agreed on a one year deal,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff explained to the media after the announcement.

“First of all, there is a substantial regulation change in 2022. We also want to see how the world develops, and the company.

“Plus on the other side, it’s because we kept it very late. We wanted to discuss the contract at the end of the [2020] season between the Bahrain races and then obviously, Lewis didn’t feel well.

“In the end, we started our conversation just before Christmas so it was important to get it done as soon as possible.

“And in that respect, we thought, let’s postpone the discussion about 2022 and onwards to a later stage in 2021.”

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The Austrian went on to explain what prevented the two parties from agreeing to a longer-term deal.

“There are uncertainties in the world that affect the way that the sport can operate, that have an influence on our revenue, TV monies, and on sponsorship income.

“Daimler, Mercedes, is in a huge transformation towards electric mobility and that means investments. So we are living in a financial reality that is very different to what it was a few years ago.

“But having said that, we are totally in line, Lewis and me and the wider group at Mercedes about the situation. So there was never any discrepancy in opinion.

“It was just that we felt we could get a good signature on the 2021 contract because we just need to get going and then find some time during 2021, earlier than this time around, to discuss the future.

“And it’s not only specifically to 2022, but also beyond. And that is not something that we wanted to carve out via videoconferencing between Christmas and the end of January.”

Wolff also took the opportunity to rubbish some persistent rumours, like the one that Lewis wanted to be able to veto Mercedes’ choice of team-mate (the infamous ‘Verstappen Clause’ that we wrote about yesterday) and that he wanted a piece of the team’s revenue.

“On the specific clauses that were out there in the media, I don’t know where they came from because none of that is true.

“I actually read about this, and I found it interesting, but the truth is that there was not one second of discussion about any driver specific clause.

“He has never asked for that in the last eight years and it’s a team decision. And the other clause about a revenue share – that came out of nowhere.

“That rumour was baseless too, so none of that was ever part of our discussions,” concluded Wolff.

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