JUNE 5, 2023

Hamilton, Wolff, set for contract talks on Monday

Lewis Hamilton will sit down with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff for contract talks on Monday.

Lewis Hamilton, Spanish GP 2023
© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton will sit down with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff for contract talks on Monday.

In Barcelona, rumours of tension between the seven time world champion and his teammate George Russell bubbled up as the pair collided at high speed in Q3.

Mercedes played it down, but former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher senses there is more to it.

"George didn't want to give Lewis a slipstream and closed the door. That is my analysis," he told Sky Deutschland.

"The young challenger wants to replace the top dog. They don't get along that well in private either."

Hamilton's former teammate Nico Rosberg even suggested Hamilton should apologise.

"It reminded me a little of 2016," that season's world champion told Sport1.

"George didn't want to let Lewis past, but he apologised afterwards. I also think Lewis should apologise because he was the car that was behind.

"In the end it was unfortunate," Rosberg added, "but I think there will still be serious discussions.

"We can't forget that this rivalry at Mercedes is already intense - George is really there and pushing Lewis very hard."

That seems to be reflected in the contract situation too, with Russell understood to have now had the 2025 option on his contract taken up by Mercedes.

38-year-old Hamilton, meanwhile, is yet to sign even for 2024.

"Well, I haven't signed anything yet but I think we're meeting with Toto tomorrow, so hopefully we can get something done," the British driver said after finishing P2 ahead of Russell in the Spanish GP.

Hamilton denied that he dropped a 'subtle hint' that a 2024 contract is now basically agreed.

"Yeah, it wasn't a subtle hint," he insisted. "We've had so many meetings. It's just another one of the meetings that we're having.

"And you can see from my result today that my performance is not affected by that."

Wolff said on Sunday that he predicts the sit-down with Hamilton will take only "half an hour" to reach a positive outcome, while a team spokesman added that there are "no stumbling blocks" preventing a swift deal.

The timing of the talks is also good news for Wolff, as the team's 'B' car represents a clear step forward for the team that has struggled in 2022 and 2023 with its 'no sidepods' concept.

"The direction of development is right, it's going uphill," Wolff said.

"But it's like a share price - there can also be setbacks."

Hamilton hinted that Mercedes needs to get the "balance" right between continuing to improve the 2023 and switching focus to next year's car.

"They (Red Bull) are so far ahead and ultimately Max will continue to win this year," he said.

"That means they can start on their development for next year sooner, earlier than anyone else if they haven't already ñ and that's the danger."