Hamilton sees 'no need' for longer Mercedes contract, puts change before championship

By Sports Desk March 02, 2021

Lewis Hamilton says his decision to only sign a one-year contract with Mercedes should not cause concern as he prioritises his drive for more diversity in Formula One.

It took until February before seven-time world champion Hamilton and Mercedes finally announced they had come to terms on a new contract.

The agreement was only for 2021, the last season before sweeping regulation changes come into the sport.

Hamilton, 36, insists there should be no doubts over his commitment.

The Briton also spoke of his passion to fight for change and equality in F1 and wider society.

That will serve as his main focus in a year where he could surpass Michael Schumacher outright with an eighth title.

"I'm kind of in a fortunate position where I've achieved most of the stuff I wanted to achieve up until this point, so there's no real need necessarily to plan too far ahead in the future," Hamilton said at the launch of Mercedes' new W12 car.

"I'm fully invested in this season and delivering. I still love what I do.

"We're living through an unusual period of time in life and I just wanted one year. Then we can talk about if we do more, and keep adding it [by] one if we have to.

"I chose to have a one-year deal, so I can see where we are at. It doesn't mean I'm not committed.

"What I'm really focused on - there was a lot of discussion around the diversity issue, what is important is that we are delivering."

Hamilton added: "I'm really proud of my team, I'm already seeing steps to see that progress. That's my driving force to make sure we continue to push for accountability.

"The main priority for 2021 - in the past it was about just winning championships. But now it's really pushing for making real change.

"Last year there was discussion about equality and inclusion and there was a lot of talk this year about pushing for diversity and really making sure that action is taken.

"That's at the core of the drive for me, but of course we exist to win. That is what all these guys and girls here are working towards, so that's my goal to deliver it for them."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff echoed the comments of Hamilton and is not concerned about the short deal.

Wolff said: "No doubt about his commitment. First of all, he enjoys racing a lot. We enjoy working with each other and we discussed that a lot.

"But he’s absolutely right. The times change, new priorities for all of us in terms of the way we live, our health, he is very passionate about his initiatives against racism and inequality.

"Then we have this massive regulatory change in 2022 that is going to reshape what Formula One will be.

"I don't think this will play a role, but I think it's fair for a driver who has won seven championships to have the flexibility to decide what he wants to do in future.

"We have agreed that we want to pick up the discussions much earlier this year to avoid a situation like we had in 2020, to run out of time and be in the uncomfortable position that we have no time left before the beginning of the season."

The 2021 season is scheduled to get under way with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.

Related items

  • Monaco homecoming going 'smoothly' for Leclerc after 'one of the best laps' Monaco homecoming going 'smoothly' for Leclerc after 'one of the best laps'

    Charles Leclerc is confident hs Ferrari can secure him a maiden win at his home race, after qualifying on pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday.

    On a circuit where track position is critical, Ferrari took the front row of the grid for Sunday's race with Carlos Sainz finishing in second behind Leclerc after Q3 was halted by a red flag.

    Sergio Perez hit the barrier at Portier, and Sainz could not react quickly enough to avoid a collision, when Leclerc was on track to beat his then-provisional pole time.

    Ultimately, it secured the Monegasque driver top spot, and he was in high spirits afterwards following his second consecutive pole.

    "I am very pleased with our overall performance so far this weekend," Leclerc said. "I felt confident in the car and started pushing a bit more in Q3. The first lap was good. I think that the second was one of the best laps I have ever done in qualifying.

    "It was so much fun to drive, and I was really on the limit. I had a lot of oversteer, so the rear was quite loose. Still, I knew that the lap was coming together nicely and that felt particularly good.

    "It’s a shame that I couldn’t finish it, but this is Monaco, and we know that the final attempt is always at risk of yellow or red flags. We secured pole anyway, so I am really happy.

    "Whatever the conditions are tomorrow, we will start from the best place possible and will do everything to finish the weekend as smoothly as it has gone so far."

    Max Verstappen finished in fourth, continuing his fight to find pace at low-speed corners from the Thursday and Friday practice sessions.

    The reigning world champion finished almost three tenths of a second off Leclerc's pole time and could have been further off the pace had his rival finished his second hot lap.

    "In general, my pace this weekend has been a bit of a struggle, I never really found the perfect balance," Verstappen said. "We were on for a good final lap in Q3, I was pushing to the limit on the last lap until I got to the corner, where I hit a little traffic jam.

    "It was very unfortunate as I think we could have done better than fourth – not pole position, because I think that Charles is too far ahead. I think we could have at least got second place"

  • Leclerc profits with home pole after chaotic finish at 'typical Monaco' Leclerc profits with home pole after chaotic finish at 'typical Monaco'

    Charles Leclerc was "incredibly happy" to claim pole position in Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, leading a Ferrari one-two – although Carlos Sainz felt he could have pipped his team-mate if not for a dramatic crash.

    Monegasque driver Leclerc qualified fastest at his home race after the final session was cut short due to a red flag.

    Sergio Perez hit the barrier, prompting a yellow flag that Sainz saw only in time to brake as he careered into the Red Bull.

    That brought a premature end to proceedings but ensured a fine result for Ferrari and, in particular, Leclerc, who secured a precious pole; while he has converted only four of his 13 previous poles into wins, some 15 of the past 17 winners in Monaco have started from the front row, including 12 from first place.

    For Leclerc to add his name to the list of winners, he will have to overcome an awful record which has seen him never manage to finish the Monaco race. Despite taking pole last year, his car also crashed heavily in qualifying, and it meant Leclerc could not take an active part on race day.

    This time it could be a different story.

    "It is very special. I'm so incredibly happy," Leclerc said. "It's been a very smooth weekend until now – I knew the pace was in the car; I just had to do the job, and it went perfectly.

    "That last lap, before the red flag, was really, really good, but it didn't change anything for us."

    That may be true for Leclerc, but Sainz felt he was on course to top the timesheets prior to the collision with Perez.

    "It's a shame – another year that a red flag cost us the end of a session, and we could not go for pole position," he said, "but it's typical Monaco."

    Sainz added: "I think we are in a great position to score a great result for the team. The car has been amazing all weekend, so we'll go for it."

    Perez still qualified in third, ahead of an out-of-sorts Max Verstappen, while Lewis Hamilton's practice woes shifted only enough for him to make eighth before his final flying lap was halted.

    PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

    1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:11.376
    2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.225s
    3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.253s
    4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.290s
    5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.473s
    6. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.736s
    7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.871s
    8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.184s
    9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.356s
    10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +1.671s

  • Hamilton 'fighting the car' around 'bumpiest track I've ever driven' in Monaco Hamilton 'fighting the car' around 'bumpiest track I've ever driven' in Monaco

    Lewis Hamilton suggested the problems with his Mercedes W13 were being exacerbated in Monaco on "the bumpiest track I've ever driven".

    Seven-time Formula One champion Hamilton has endured a difficult season, complaining right from the outset about his "bouncing" 2022 car.

    There had been some signs of progress in recent weeks, however, with Hamilton finishing fifth in Barcelona despite a first-lap puncture.

    But things have taken another turn for the worse for the Silver Arrows in Monaco, where Hamilton finished in P10 in Friday's first practice session and P12 in the second.

    The circuit itself has contributed, the Briton says, as he said: "Firstly, it's the bumpiest the track [has] ever been. It's probably the bumpiest track I've ever driven.

    "So, one, that makes it difficult, and two, just generally our car bounces a lot.

    "It's different bouncing to what we've experienced in the past; it's in the low speed also, but it's not aero[-related]. I think the bumps on the track just make it worse.

    "I'm not really having to learn the track differently, just fighting the car. To put a lap together is... wow, holy c**p! I don't remember experiencing it like that before."

    Team-mate George Russell was only a little better in P8 and P6, beaten in both sessions by McLaren's Lando Norris (P5 twice).

    "I'm a little bit surprised to say we're ahead of Mercedes," Norris said. "I expected them to maybe be ahead of us at the minute.

    "But the plan is to be ahead of them, and if we can be, I'll be very happy with that."

    Yet McLaren colleague Daniel Ricciardo has work to do after hitting the barrier in FP2.

    "We pushed a little too far probably in a couple areas with the set-up," Ricciardo said. "We had a good morning, and obviously you try a few things for FP2 to try to maximise a bit more performance, but let's say we overstepped it – you don't know until you try it.

    "It was my first lap, so I couldn't really get much of a read on it; it happened straight away.

    "I tried my best to save it, but I couldn't. We missed all of the session, but I'm okay. We'll be ready to go tomorrow."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.