Wolff not relishing Mercedes contract talks with F1 superstar Lewis Hamiltonby Omnisport
Lewis Hamilton is in the final year of his Mercedes contract, meaning he and team principal Toto Wolff must head to the negotiating table.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits he is not looking forward to new contract discussions with Lewis Hamilton because of their close relationship.
Formula One champion Hamilton, who will target a record-equalling seventh title in 2020, is in the final 12 months of his existing deal.
Most signs point to him staying beyond the new season, despite Hamilton reportedly chasing a hefty pay rise.
He is said to be looking for an increase of around 50 per cent on what is reputed to be a £40million annual salary.
Team principal Wolff said: “The dynamic is very good, we’ve known each other for such a long time and have the greatest respect for each other.
“Lewis is very aware of where we are as a team and where we are as a motor company.
“Overall, these discussions, we don’t like them because we are friends and very close to each other on this joint journey, but it’s part of the job.”
Wolff said Hamilton and Mercedes will both have ideas about the driver’s value.
Hamilton has been linked with Ferrari in the past, but the Italian team have said they are focused on keeping the partnership of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc for the foreseeable future.
Ahead of the contract talks, Hamilton was quick to praise Wolff’s influence, telling Sky Sports: “He’s an incredible businessman. I learnt a lot from this man and it’s always an exciting moment – it’s a real privilege that they want me to stay and be part of a great team, that’s a great feeling.
“I hope I can continue to help contribute to the team’s success.”
The team’s new car – officially titled the Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance – was revealed on Friday at Silverstone.
Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas had the opportunity to take to the track, with the Brit describing the car, which includes a host of technical updates to the 2019 edition, as “a new piece of art”.
There are changes to impact tubes, suspension and its aerodynamic make-up feature, and Bottas is optimistic he can challenge for the title.
While Hamilton is chasing Michael Schumacher’s haul of seven titles, Bottas wants a first, and last year’s second-placed finish in the championship fills him with optimism.
Bottas told Sky Sports: “I have no doubt Lewis will want to win the championship again and break records, but I need to focus on my own thing.
“Last year was really encouraging because I managed to improve lots of my weaknesses.
“I have good confidence; I know I can do it. It’s for me to be at my best level, keep improving and keep learning. It’s so good to start at zero again and see what happens.”