(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has described his contract negotiations with the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team as ‘a pain in the backside’.
Hamilton, who won the opening Grand Prix of the 2015 season and currently leads the championship by three points from Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is for the first time negotiating his own contract with the Silver Arrows after splitting from Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment company.
The double world champion is into the final year of an initial three year contract and despite saying that he expected the contract to be signed ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix last time out it didn’t happen and this has led to speculation that the former McLaren driver is asking for too much money.
It is believed that the current offer on the table from the Brackley based outfit is £27 million with bonuses for race wins.
Hamilton’s former team mate, McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button believes however that the double world champion is obviously asking for me than what he was with his previous contract due to the fact that he is world champion, however Button reckons that Mercedes will argue that any other driver would have won the races Hamilton did last year given the car as the team were so dominant in 2014 and that would not justify the high salary.
Hamilton previously said that the deal was 99.6% complete and that it was being looked over by the lawyers however no deal has apparently been concluded.
In related news, Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff has urged Hamilton to sign the new contract because he fears that the longer the matter goes on unresolved the greater the possibility of it upsetting the team.
Wolff has also suggested that the sticking point is not related to Hamilton’s desired salary. Wolff explained that Hamilton (who is new to negotiating his own contract) likes to go through the finer details of everything and this may be the reason why it is taking longer than expected for the deal to be concluded.
Hamilton heads into qualifying for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit having topped the time sheets in the opening practice sessions on Friday.
© Ben Johnston 2015