Toto Wolff justified Lewis Hamilton’s one year deal with Mercedes by both parties’ desire to postpone talks for 2022 to later this year.
While Mercedes and Hamilton’s renewed partnership announced on Monday was hardly a surprise, the one-year duration was unexpected.
Pundits were predicting a multi-year deal that would carry Hamilton into the 2022 season and to Formula 1’s first year under its new regulations.
But Wolff said last year’s delayed talks with Hamilton coupled with the “uncertainties” surrounding the current state of world – including the automobile industry’s paradigm shift to electrification – had encouraged Mercedes and its driver to focus only on 2021 and address the future thereafter at a later date.
“Because we kept it very late, we wanted to discuss the contract at the end of the season between the Bahrain races, and then Lewis obviously didn’t feel well,” commented Wolff, speaking to the media.
“At the end we started our negotiation 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 onwards to a later stage in 2021.”
“There are uncertainties in the world that affect the way the sport can operate that have an influence on our revenue, on TV monies, on sponsorship income
“Daimler and Mercedes are in a huge transformation towards electric mobility and that means investments. So we are living in a financial reality that is very different to what it was a few years ago.”
The negotiation delays notwithstanding between the two parties, Wolff insisted a deal was never really in doubt.
“Having said that we are totally in line, Lewis and me and the wider group in Mercedes, about this situation,” Wolff continued.
“So there was never any discrepancy in opinion. It was just that we felt we’ve got to put signature on the 2021 contact because we need to get going and then find some time during 2021, earlier than this time around, to discuss the future.
“And it’s not only specifically to 2022 but also beyond and that is not something that we wanted to carve out via videoconferencing between Christmas and the end of January.”
Read also: Signed and sealed! Mercedes and Hamilton agree one-year deal
Last week, rumors emerged that Hamilton was pushing for a provision to be included in his contract by which he would have had the right to veto the identity of his teammate – a so called “Verstappen clause”.
But Wolff denied the gossip, insisting no such provision exists in Hamilton’s new deal.
“On the specific clauses that were out there in the media, I don’t know where that came from because none of that is true,” said the Mercedes boss.
“I actually read about this, I found it an interesting perspective, 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’s a team decision.
“The other clause about a revenue split or revenue share… that rumour was baseless too, so none of that was ever part of our discussions.”
Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers
Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter