Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff has denied that money and a Max Verstappen veto were the reasons for the delay over Lewis Hamilton’s new contract with the team.
Various reports circulated that seven-time F1 World Champion Hamilton was holding out for more money and a share of Mercedes’ television revenues, whilst a more recent rumour said the Briton had asked for the inclusion of a veto on Verstappen joining the team.
Both of these are “baseless” according to Wolff, who explained the real reason behind Hamilton’s delayed deal.
“There was not a moment where we thought he would not sign,” Wolff told reporters on Monday following the announcement of a one-year deal for Hamilton. “There was never a moment where he doubted it [either].
“These specific clauses that were out there in the media, I don’t know where it came from because none of it is true.
“I read about this [veto clause] and found it interesting, but the truth is there was not a second of discussion about any driver-specific clause. He has never asked for that in the last eight years and it is a team decision.
“And the other clause about the revenue split or share, came out of nowhere. That rumour was baseless too so none of that was ever part of our discussions.”
Wolff explained that Hamilton’s COVID-19 infection was to blame for the prolonged negotiations as it forced them to delay talks.
“We left it very late and we wanted to discuss the contract at the end of the season between the Bahrain races and then, obviously, Lewis didn’t feel well, so in the end we started our conversations just before Christmas.
“It was important to get it done as soon as possible and in that respect we thought let’s postpone the discussion about 2022 and onwards to a later stage in 2021.”