Hamilton's 'surreal' record hailed by Wolff as Mercedes boss jokes about new contract

By Sports Desk October 25, 2020

Toto Wolff hailed Lewis Hamilton's "surreal" record-breaking 92nd Formula One victory and joked it may now be too costly to tie him down to a new Mercedes contract.

The six-time world champion moved beyond Michael Schumacher's tally of wins with another masterful drive in Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimao.

Hamilton crossed the line 25 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who he now leads by a mammoth 77 points, for his eighth triumph in 12 races this season to create more history in a remarkable career.

Mercedes team principal Wolff told Sky Sports: "Who would have have thought when we started this project in 2013... it's almost a surreal amount [of wins],

"It's his absolute passion and energy and everything he puts into the sport - and the talent and the ability. He's just standing out.

"This season he has ramped it up. It's a lot of learning, understanding the tyres and after the first couple of laps he was just sitting comfortably - then he just ramps it up even more."

Hamilton is into the final year of his Mercedes contract and has held off from holding formal talks over a new deal.

As the 35-year-old closes in on a record-equalling seventh title, Wolff admitted it will now likely take an even bigger sum to keep him in place.

"It's huge! We have to sell plenty of inventory," he said while laughing. "We'll have to sell the lease back of the buildings, just to come up with the money."

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    Andy Murray believes the time is right for seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton to be knighted.

    Britain's two-time Wimbledon champion was given the honour at the height of his career, with the announcement made in December 2016.

    And although Murray feels sport stars should perhaps not be at the front of the queue for such recognition, Murray sees Hamilton as an outstanding candidate based on his driving prowess.

    The 35-year-old Mercedes superstar has just wrapped up another championship, matching Michael Schumacher's record haul of titles and overtaking the German great for the most race wins in F1.

    Reports have claimed Hamilton will be made a knight in the New Year Honours, following in the footsteps of fellow British motorsport greats Jackie Stewart and the late Stirling Moss.

    Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Murray said: "I'm not necessarily all for sportspeople being given knighthoods for what we do.

    "But in terms of what he's achieved as an athlete, of course he deserves it. As a sportsperson, he's one of the most successful sportspeople in the history of the country.

    "He's an amazing, amazing driver, he supports some great causes as well, away from the racing track.

    "So yeah, I would say he definitely deserves it in terms of his achievements."

    Speaking to presenter Piers Morgan on the ITV breakfast show, Murray was reminded that Hamilton is also a fan of Premier League football club Arsenal.

    Murray and Morgan are also supporters of the Gunners, and the Scot joked that Hamilton's choice of team also justified royal recognition.

    "That's a good reason to give him one as well," said Murray.

  • Oliveira signs off in style in Portugal to cap 'crazy' MotoGP season Oliveira signs off in style in Portugal to cap 'crazy' MotoGP season

    Miguel Oliveira was delighted to finish with a flourish as he ended his time with Red Bull KTM Tech3 by winning his home race in Portugal.

    Having claimed pole position at the end of qualifying at the Algarve International Circuit, Oliveira duly led from start to finish to record his second victory of the 2020 MotoGP season.

    The Portuguese, who had previously triumphed at the Styrian Grand Prix, will be stepping up to KTM's factory team in 2021 having impressed so far in his two years in the premier class.

    "It's a great emotional day, happy, happy, happy, happy feelings," Oliveira told BT Sport.

    "To win a home GP is something every rider wants to do. I only had one chance, so needed to make it count. 

    "I hope I have given good contributions to the team. Despite being a rookie last season, I think we were able to learn from each other and that's something unique. I've given a lot of things, but they've also given a lot to me.

    "I couldn't be happier that I'm leaving the team at this point, with a win. They truly deserve it and I just hope that going to the factory team I can be able to develop these good relationships I have had with KTM Tech 3."

    Oliveira had the opportunity to triumph in his own country after the Portuguese Grand Prix returned to the schedule for the first time since 2012.

    The 25-year-old actually won twice as many races as newly crowned world champion Joan Mir in an eventful campaign played out without Marc Marquez, who was sidelined by injury.

    While hopeful of continuing to progress following his switch next year, Oliveira is well aware how tough it is going to be with so little difference between all the teams.

    "I'm optimistic about the future because our package can still have some modifications, which is nice. The bike itself is performing really well and now I'm able to ride the way I want to," he said.

    "But our opponents will not sleep this winter – they will work hard and I'm expecting, as always, tough competition. 

    "This season, the level was crazy. Every rider, every team, satellite or non-satellite, the packages are so equal that you need to be on your toes, on your A game every time on the track, otherwise you end up out of the points."

    Oliveira finished ninth in the overall standings, just 23 points behind second-placed Franco Morbidelli to demonstrate just how competitive MotoGP was this year.

  • MotoGP 2020: Oliveira goes wire-to-wire on home soil in Portugal as champion Mir fails to finish MotoGP 2020: Oliveira goes wire-to-wire on home soil in Portugal as champion Mir fails to finish

    Miguel Oliveira went wire-to-wire to win on home soil in Sunday's season-concluding Portuguese MotoGP, as Joan Mir failed to finish and subsequently set a new record for the fewest wins by a champion.

    Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) clinched pole for the first time a day earlier in Portimao ahead of Franco Morbidelli, the winner in Valencia a week ago, and impressively surged on to an emphatic victory ahead of the Italian and Jack Miller.

    Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) and Miller (Pramac Racing) tussled behind Oliveira, with the latter taking second having lost out to his rival in Valencia.

    But it was a second successive frustrating day for Mir, who, having secured the championship last week, endured difficulties in qualifying and was then forced to abandon the race due to more technical faults as his season ended with a damp squib.

    As such, Mir made history in winning just once in a successful championship.

    Oliveira's blistering start was a sign of things to come as he got away in commanding fashion, while further back on the first lap Mir – beginning the race 20th after an electrical issue in qualifying – almost came off amid a crowd.

    Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) was not so fortunate, however, his collision with Mir requiring a trip to the medical centre with a shoulder injury.

    Nevertheless, Mir was unable to finish the race, ultimately heading into pits with 10 laps to go as he gestured towards his back wheel.

    With Oliveira almost five seconds clear towards the end, the most gripping racing was just in behind him as Miller managed to get the better of Morbidelli this time, holding him off on the final lap.

    A three-way scrap ensued in their wake, with Andrea Dovizioso finishing sixth in his final MotoGP race having started back in 12th, while Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM) took fourth ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) and Stefan Bradl (Red Bull KTM) came seventh.

    Seven-time champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) mustered a 12th-placed finish in his final outing with the team, but the day belonged to Oliveira, victorious for the first time.

     

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