Lewis Hamilton certainly left it late to clinch a new deal to return to the Formula 1 grid with Mercedes in 2021.
A one-year contract extension for the new season was finally hammered out and announced early February, just weeks before the team’s official launch presentation and the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain.
Prior to that, rumours had swept the paddock that Daimler were unhappy with Hamilton’s pay demands and blocking a new deal, despite the driver dominating the 2020 season on his way to a record-equaling seventh world title.
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However the short-term nature of the resulting contract has led many to speculate that this could be Hamilton’s final season in F1, and the spotlight is already fixed upon what the reigning champion will decide to do at the year.
But Hamilton insisted this week that he didn’t feel this uncertainty would be a distraction or put him under pressure to sort out his future plans and end the unceasing media attention.
“Time will tell, I guess. It’s not like it’s my first rodeo,” he said. “I’ve been in this position where at least I’ve been asked the question for a period of time. I don’t really feel pressured in that sense.
“I’m fully invested in this season and in delivering. I still love what I do. I’m just generally in a fortunate position that I don’t have to commit to multiple years.
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“I chose to have a one-year deal so that I could see how the year goes,” he continued. “That will be a constant discussion through the year.
“In terms of whether this is where I want to continue, if this is the road I want to continue down? It will come to me, I’m sure.
“Naturally, I continue to have huge belief in and always bet on myself in terms of. I know what it takes to deliver.
“I have an extraordinary relationship with Mercedes that’s incredibly deep,” he added. “I think there’s more than just racing that we will probably end up doing together.”
Mercedes has strongly supported Hamilton’s global social awareness campaign on diversity and human rights, and has retained the black livery it first introduced last year for a second season.
The team and driver have also partnered in a new foundation to promote greater diversity and inclusivity in motorsport itself. “Wth this foundation, there are a lot of great things that we will do moving forwards,” Hamilton noted.
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