There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about championship leader Lewis Hamilton’s next F1 contract, with his long term deal with McLaren due to expire at the end of this season.
Hamilton is now managed by Simon Fuller’s XIX entertainment group and clearly the next contract for Hamilton is an important one, both financially and in terms of his competitiveness.
Yesterday McLaren group chairman Ron Dennis shed some light on how they see it, in an interview on Sky,
“It’s a complex situation,” said Dennis. “He is on the end of a contract which was signed a at a time when the economy was somewhat different. Now there has to be a balance.
“He’s obviously going to look at what’s available, where could he go. We’re going to look at who’s available. At the end of the day, hopefully the fact that he’s been part of this team from the beginning of his career will play a significant role in whatever decisions both sides make. But it’s a little early to be talking about it.
“He’s very highly paid,” Dennis added, “He’s certainly paid more than I am.”
Hamilton signed on to race for McLaren in 2007 and after a stunning debut season he inked a longer contract to the end of 2012. The world economy was indeed in a boom at the time and McLaren also had Mercedes Benz as a partner and shareholder.
Since then the global financial crisis and the departure of Mercedes as a shareholder in 2009 means that McLaren is in a different place.
Although it is set to receive a boost to its share of income from the commercial rights of the sport, with the agreement it made with FOM in March, McLaren clearly feel that they are in a reasonable position in this contract negotiation round.
Hamilton’s options are Mercedes, who must be looking carefully at him as a replacement for Michael Schumacher and, perhaps less likely, Red Bull, where his presence would electrify things on a marketing level, but would be considered by the racers in the team to be potentially destabilising with Sebastian Vettel. However if they feel that there is a realistic chance of losing Vettel to Ferrari in 2014, then they may move for Hamilton.
Dennis and McLaren F1 team boss Martin Whitmarsh have enormous experience of these kinds of negotiations. Anyone who went through several negotiating rounds with Senna in particular, will have been to hell and back in trying to get the best deal for the team.
One solution may be for Hamilton to be allowed to have his own sponsors, something the team has been reluctant to do since Ayrton Senna had Nacional bank on his overalls and cap.
Hamilton’s win yesterday was his 18th in 97 starts. According to GP Guide.com he has an 18.56% win ratio and a 47.4% podium/starts ratio.