Mercedes says reports of a financial discord delaying contract talks between the German outfit and Lewis Hamilton are “pure fiction”.
Mercedes and Hamilton are engaged in negotiations over the latter’s future in F1, with all signs pointing to the seven-time world champion extending his partnership with his current employer.
Both parties are likely in the process of defining the final details of their next deal, but the delay has led to rumors claiming that money has put the talks at a standstill.
Hamilton is reportedly seeking a €40 million retainer and a percentage of the team’s prize money. Italy’s Corriere della Sera contends that new team owner INEOS is willing to contribute to Mercedes’ offer to fulfill Hamilton’s basic financial demands.
However, a spokesperson for Mercedes has qualified the reports as “pure fiction”, insisting “there are no reasons to be concerned” by the contract delay.
Many believe that the current economic conjecture has compelled Mercedes to drive a hard bargain with its star driver, with mega-buck eight-figure salaries hard to justify.
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George Russell’s remarkable performance as Hamilton’s substitute in last month’s Sakhir GP has perhaps also provided Mercedes with leverage in its talks with Hamilton.
In Abu Dhabi, Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said that his negotiations with Hamilton could extend up until the eve of pre-season testing in early March.
“We are not worried about eventually getting it done,” the Austrian said last month. “We are not putting a special date to it because we don’t want to be under pressure.
“Sooner or later it needs to be done and at the latest before we go testing.”
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