Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has explained that Lewis Hamilton has only agreed a two-year extension to avoid the discussion of exit clauses that come with longer-term deals.
It was announced on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix weekend that Hamilton would be remaining in Formula 1 with Mercedes until the end of 2025, continuing a prosperous partnership that has yielded six titles, 82 race wins and 146 podiums to this point.
Hamilton’s renewed terms mean he will remain in F1 until the end of the current regulation cycle, leaving him free to walk away if Mercedes fails to deliver him a title-contending car like it has the past two years.
Wolff reveals the complications of discussing break-clause agreements in longer-term contracts is why the two parties settled on a shorter-term arrangement.
“This is a dynamic environment and signing a five-year contract means that you need to discuss about [if] there is any escape clause in case we’re not providing him with a car that is performing,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1 ahead of last weekend’s race at Monza.
“So, we didn’t entertain that. We said we see the foreseeable future is two years. And that’s what we are committing to each other.”
Hamilton has been supported by Mercedes throughout his 16-year career in F1 to date and has repeatedly expressed his desire to remain aligned with the German marque beyond his time racing in the sport.
Wolff believes the seven-time World Champion’s ambition will be fulfilled.
“I think first of all, his role with the team will go on for a longer period even when he decides not to drive anymore,” he added.
Amid a second consecutive trying campaign for Mercedes, Wolff asserts that the onus is on the Brackley-based operation to deliver a car that retains Hamilton’s services.
“I believe in the fact that if it’s of benefit for both parties, then you’re staying together,” he explained.
“We need to make a quick car, we need a quick driver. Like a very famous football coach once told me, if a good player wants to go elsewhere then he’s never stopped him going elsewhere.
“So, when somebody wants to move either the team or the driver then you’ve just got to move.”
With eight rounds remaining of the 2023 season, Mercedes still remain in second place in the Constructors’ Championship, 45 points ahead of Ferrari, who leapfrogged Aston Martin last time out.
Meanwhile, Hamilton closed to within six points of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in the Drivers’ standings after recovering from eighth on the grid to fifth in the Italian GP.