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Hamilton, Bottas is our priority now, says Mercedes CEO. Why such a short contract, the boss explains.

Lewis Hamilton, the seven-times world champion, signed a record $40 million deal for a year with Mercedes. The Brit was in a contract dilemma with the automobile giant since the end of last season. The deal is finally renewed where Hamilton will drive for Mercedes for the ninth season in a row. The deal was announced on Monday, but its short nature grabbed some eyeballs.

The contract renewal

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, said in a virtual press conference that the deal was mutually signed by the team and Lewis Hamilton. “We jointly agreed on a one-year deal. First of all there is a substantial regulation change in 2022. We also want to see how the world develops, and the company.”

Wolff also conveyed, “On the other side, because we kept it very late. It was important to get it done as soon as possible. In that respect we thought let’s postpone the discussion about 2022 and onwards until a later stage in 2021.”

When asked about the Verstappen clause, the team boss refused to comment on it. He also declined any links to Hamilton regarding the clause – an effective veto on future teammates beyond 2021.

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP, Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP and Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff talk on stage at the F1 Live event during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on March 13, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP, Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP and Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff talk on stage at the F1 Live event during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on March 13, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

The Russell fiasco

Talking about George Russell getting a deal in 2022, Wolff asserted, “Valtteri and Lewis have our 100 percent commitment and loyalty for 2021, we will support them with everything we have. We will then look beyond this year and say: ‘what is the line-up that we imagine in 2022 and onwards?

Wolff further affirmed, “Our first discussions are going to be with Valtteri and Lewis in respecting our values of loyalty and integrity but on the other side the young drivers are the future and therefore we need to consider how we want to set ourselves up for the years beyond.”

George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes GP prepares to drive on the grid before the F1 Grand Prix of Sakhir at Bahrain International Circuit on December 06, 2020 in Bahrain.

George Russell, the young driver from Britain, was also under contention for a driver’s seat on the team. He performed brilliantly for Mercedes in Sakhir GP when he replaced COVID-struck Hamilton last season. Meanwhile, as it stands, Mercedes is pretty content with two drivers for this season. With many reformations to come in 2022, it will be exciting to see how things turn out.

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