Monaco resident Lewis Hamilton has ended speculation surrounding his future by signing a new contract with Mercedes.
Sportsmail revealed last month that the announcement of a two-year extension worth £40million-a-year was just a matter of time, and at the team’s home race here in Germany Hamilton finally became the highest-paid driver in the sport’s history.
Negotiations have been ongoing since the turn of the year, with the delay sparking fears that Hamilton was considering retirement or a rival offer.
The 33-year-old revealed that an unnamed team had approached him, but insisted his future always lied with the outfit who have helped him to three of his four world titles since joining in 2013.
‘In terms of other teams approaching me, one did but I didn’t give it any air,’ said Hamilton.
‘I said from day one that I’m not talking to anyone else. I just kept delaying it. I didn’t feel like I had to rush.
‘It might have been before or after Monaco [Grand Prix in May] when it was agreed. Then there were small bits we needed to change.’ Those sticking points included Hamilton’s personal endorsements as well as the length of the deal.
Mercedes are only committed to F1 until 2020 with negotiations over the sport’s regulations beyond that ongoing.
‘We were talking about three years but in F1 the shapes are shifting and I’m interested to see how that plays out,’ said Hamilton.
‘It didn’t make sense for me to commit into the unknown even though it’s easy for me to imagine being with Mercedes.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) July 19, 2018
‘I still feel pretty great. I wasn’t expecting to feel as excited as I am now about signing to extend.
‘But everything could shift and I don’t want to get stuck in a corner I can’t move from so it’s a strategic decision.’
Forbes’s recent list of sports earnings placed Hamilton ahead of fellow Britons Anthony Joshua, who banked £18m for his win over Joseph Parker in March, and Gareth Bale, whose Real Madrid salary is £15m-per-year.
Hamilton’s new deal extends his financial might by about £8m-a-year from £32m.
Globally, Hamilton becomes the eight-best paid sports star when endorsements are discounted.
He will continue to strike his own, side-by-side agreements with Mercedes sponsors such as Tommy Hilfiger, Monster Energy and Puma, meaning his actual earnings will be closer to £50m-a-year.
With an estimated fortune of £159m, Hamilton will continue his rise up The Sunday Times rich list after being ranked the 742nd richest Brit in the 2018 edition.
Hamilton has, however, not officially resided in the UK since 2007 and has lived as a tax exile since 2007, first in Switzerland and now in Monaco. He also holds a Malta company for his image rights.
The announcement from Mercedes comes ahead of the team’s home race in Germany, with Hamilton trailing Sebastian Vettel in the championship by eight points.
Hamilton said on the Mercedes website:
‘This contract extension has basically been a formality since Toto [Wolff] and I sat down during the winter, so it’s good to put pen to paper, announce it and then get on with business as usual.
‘I have been part of the Mercedes racing family for 20 years and I have never been happier inside a team than I am right now.
‘We are on the same wavelength both on and off track – and I am looking forward to winning more in the future and shining even more light on the three-pointed star. I’m very confident that Mercedes is the right place to be over the coming years.
‘The competitive passion that burns bright inside me is shared by every single member of this group – always chasing the next improvement and digging even deeper to make sure we come out on top. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in the next two-and-a-half seasons.’
Team principle Wolff said:
‘We have been aligned with Lewis ever since we first sat down to discuss the details of this contract after last season, but there has understandably been a lot of interest and speculation around the whole process, so it’s good to put all of that to rest and get this thing announced.’
Hamilton’s improved £40m salary, depending on bonuses, also nudges him ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, on £38m, as the biggest earner in Formula One.
And it was the Prancing Horse that eventually pushed Mercedes’s contract offer to record levels as they were thought to be interested in bringing Hamilton to Maranello to pair him with Vettel.
The announcement of Hamilton’s new contract was agreed several weeks ago but the held off on the announcement until this weekend’s German Grand Prix in Hockenheim, which gets underway with a first practice session on Friday morning.
Hamilton will be looking to get one over Vettel at his home Grand Prix, after the German did that very thing to him at Silverstone two weekends ago. Vettel won the British Grand Prix after Hamilton was affected by a collision with Kimi Raikkonen.
How is @LewisHamilton celebrating his new deal? ‘Monster on the Rocks’
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) July 19, 2018
Originally published at Daily Mail