F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff predicts Lewis Hamilton could be driving in Formula 1 into his 40s and looks to sign the 36-year-old for more than a year at the Brackley-based team.
Lengthy contract negotiations happened at the start of this year, as talks between Hamilton and Mercedes dragged on throughout the winter and into spring.
Finally in February, Hamilton put pen to paper – but opted for just a year long deal with the Silver Arrows, throwing out some suggestions he would retire if he won a record breaking eighth world title.
This season however, Hamilton claimed talks would happen much earlier, after last time out it “ruined” his winter.
And Wolff said this time around it’ll be done much earlier, and will be longer than a year.
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“Yes, it should be [more than a year],” he said. “We don’t want to be in a stressful situation every single year where we are absolutely flat-out trying to win races and needing to negotiate. I would rather that doesn’t happen every year.
“We just need to spend a day or two together, put it out there, and decide which are the difficult components. We will then lock the door and won’t walk out until it is sorted. That works best for us and it has worked best for us in the past.”
Hamilton is looking to become the most decorated driver in F1 history, and after a win in Barcelona for round four of the championship, leads the standings by 14 points from Max Verstappen.
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And asked if the Briton could compete into his 40s, Wolff replied by comparing the F1 icon to NFL legend Tom Brady, won his seventh Super Bowl at the age of 43 earlier this year.
“Yes, absolutely. I have no doubt about that. He is so disciplined that in a way it is inspiring,” the Austrian said.
“As long as Lewis continues to look after himself mentally and physically, continues to develop cognitively, then he can go on for much longer.
“Look at Tom Brady and we are talking about an athlete that is on the field. Here is a racing driver that has utilised all his senses.”
And Hamilton admitted the lateness of the talks last season had been difficult for both of them, especially as they both contracted COVID-19 over the latter part of the year.
“We never want to be in the position that we were in in January, in February,” he said.
“It ruined my whole winter and I’m sure it wasn’t helpful for Toto’s, in terms of being out to be off and relaxed, so it felt like we didn’t really have much of a break.
“We still have 19 races to do but it would be great to get something in place before the break so then we could, again, be in that break and have a clear picture of the future.”
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