Formula 1 broadcaster Martin Brundle has suggested that reigning F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton isn’t entirely happy with the way his contract negotiations with Mercedes played out.
Hamilton’s contract talks were delayed several times, with the seven-time champion eventually agreeing a one-year deal for the current 2021 season, just days before Mercedes unveiled its W12 car, leading to speculation that both sides were pushing for better terms.
Although both parties have since played down the delay, insisting Hamilton’s COVID-19 diagnosis was partly to blame, Brundle suspects Hamilton’s camp is unhappy with how things turned out.
“We did a couple of features with him [recently],” Brundle said in a Sky Sports F1 video. “He was very generous but a bit grumpy actually, I thought generally.
“It’s interesting that his right-hand man, Marc Hynes, is no longer working with him. I sensed he possibly wasn’t super-happy with the way the negotiations have worked out at Mercedes.”
Hamilton also gave a depressing picture of the season ahead, insisting nothing is guaranteed in terms of success, despite stable regulations with Mercedes very much the favourites again.
“Once we got over that, I did say to him ‘you’re going to burst through 100 poles this year at some point, most likely’ and he went ‘why?’,” added Brundle.
“‘McLaren were a quarter of a second behind us in Abu Dhabi, now they’ve got our engine; what about Red Bull, maybe the high rake works; and don’t count out Ferrari, and the Aston Martin will be strong’.
“He sort of really challenged me quite hard and I said ‘well, you have got 98 of them, mostly in the hybrid era, you scored 10 last year – there’s half a chance you’ll get two more this year’.
“But when we got over that little hurdle – because Lewis does love to poke you a little bit before you sit down to do stuff like that – I had an hour with him talking about that amazing race in Istanbul last year when he took his seventh world title and he was very generous on inside his head, inside his life of a grand prix weekend and how qualifying unfolds.”
Both Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas hold one-year deals, meaning Mercedes is without confirmed drivers for the regulations overhaul in 2022, unlike its rivals, which have all nailed long-term deals with at least one of their drivers.