Mercedes Formula 1 team leader, Toto Wolff, said that Hamilton may not have a deal done before the night before preseason testing commences at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which takes place in March.
One of the team’s other two one-third shareholders, Daimler, reportedly rejected Hamilton’s demands of a four-year, $200 million deal which also includes several other requests.
One of the first requests from Hamilton is a pay rise that would see him earn a whopping £50 million per year; the highest salary in all of F1. Hamilton also requested 10% shares of Mercedes prize money and, based on the 2020 pot, this would amount to a £13 million for Hamilton. He requested that Mercedes gift him one of their upcoming, limited-production AMG One cars, which will feature F1-derived technology. Hamilton also wants to help the team making the electric transition by being given a guaranteed 'hands-on' role with the team. His requests also included an ambassadorial role within the team once he retires.
However, after these heavy requests, Ola Källenius, the Chairman of the Daimler board, is reportedly not too keen on promising Hamilton more years beyond his driving career for the fact that it could end up costing the car manufacturer a fortune.
Hamilton stated earlier in the season that he will not be discussing an extension of a contract until the end of that season, however, Hamilton gave his biggest indication to date that he would sign a new deal after his win at the Turkish Grand Prix back in November. "I feel like I'm only just getting started. It is really weird. I feel physically in great shape and mentally."
George Russell has also put some pressure on Hamilton with an amazing performance, however, Toto Wolff has previously downplayed the possibility of teaming Russell up with Hamilton, stating it could go "terribly wrong" if the Williams driver was promoted too early.
"I think that it can go terribly wrong – for a young driver who has the talent to become a world champion – if he's thrown in that environment next to the best driver of his generation, who has been with us for seven years," Wolff said when asked about Russell joining Mercedes back in 2019. "I wouldn't want to burn George. I think it would come too early."
With Ineos having become a one-third shareholder of the team as well, they will also have to approve of any new contract for Hamilton.
With the ongoing discussion about Hamilton’s extension, it sparked further rumours about the future of Hamilton with Mercedes. Especially considering George Russell’s performance in his lone start as the replacement for the seven-time world champion toward the end of the 2020 season, at the Sakhir Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit, after Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19.