Lewis Hamilton says he has not started talks over a new Mercedes Formula 1 contract and told those reporting a supposed major financial demand to “stop making shit up”.
The six-time world champion’s current deal with Mercedes expires at the end of 2020, although he and team boss Toto Wolff have repeatedly spoken of their desire to continue beyond this season and said they would begin negotiations once it has started.
“No demands, the conversation hasn’t even begun. So please stop making shit up” :: Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes’ rival teams Ferrari and Red Bull have both locked in their line-ups for 2021, further increasing the likelihood of Hamilton staying put.
But some media outlets have claimed Hamilton, who is already the best-paid driver in F1, is holding out for an inflated salary and Hamilton responded to those rumours on Saturday morning ahead of final practice for the 2020 season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
“So the media keep writing about (my) contract and me making demands but I haven’t even spoken to Toto about it yet,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram.
“No demands, the conversations hasn’t even begun.
“So please stop making shit up.”
Hamilton said earlier this year in an interview with Sky Sports F1 that a new Mercedes deal is likely to capture the “last period of time in my sport” and that he wanted to “maximise financially, but it’s more about results”.
“I don’t want to commit to any timing because I don’t want to answer questions every single race weekend about why the contracts are not done” :: Toto Wolff
However, he was speaking before the coronavirus pandemic escalated, several companies initiated major cost-saving initiatives and F1 itself went through a major set of rule changes to save teams money.
Wolff said on Friday in Austria that there was “no urgency” in reaching a deal with the driver who has won five world titles for Mercedes in the last six years.
“I think simply based on the fact that we haven’t seen each other a lot, we have been keeping the discussion up,” said Wolff.
“We are in a position of trust with both of the drivers. You could say that in Formula 1 it doesn’t mean a lot – but it does in our team.
“I guess that we will do the next steps soon but I don’t want to commit to any timing because I don’t want to answer questions every single race weekend about why the contracts are not done.
“There is no urgency in the matter. All of us want to do it and when the time is right, we will announce it.”
“We’ve missed almost half a year of racing but I think it has rejuvenated my drive” :: Lewis Hamilton
One proposal that has not yet progressed is a driver salary cap, and there is no detail on how such an idea would work.
Hamilton has the chance to match Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven titles this year, and a new Mercedes contract would give him the chance to stand alone as F1’s statistically most accomplished driver.
He said on Thursday at the Red Bull Ring that he was motivated continue, aided by the pseudo-sabbatical of the pandemic giving him three months with no driving but also his activism around racial equality.
“It’s been such a difficult time for so many people around the world but it has given us a time to focus on other things,” he said.
“For me, focusing on being present, focusing on some of those other things that I didn’t necessarily have the time I’d like to focus on.
“I’ve been getting The Hamilton Commission set up and focusing on the work I’ve been doing, the fight for peace in London and supporting them, and trying to also focus on well-being and make sure I’m as healthy as can be.
“This is the first time in my career that I’ve not raced for so long and this has only been a positive for me. It’s given me time to rejuvenate and refocus.
“We’ve missed almost half a year of racing but I think it has rejuvenated my drive, particularly with more of a purpose driven goal when I came back into F1.”