British Formula 1 driver and two-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton has signed a new three-year contract with his current racing team, Mercedes AMG Petronas. The announcement was made via press release from Mercedes on Wednesday, May 20 as well as at a press conference in Monaco.
“Mercedes AMG Petronas is pleased to announce that it has finalized a new contract with Lewis Hamilton for the 2016 to 2018 Formula One seasons inclusive,” begins the release. “Since making his Formula One debut with McLaren in 2007, Lewis has started every one of his 153 Grands Prix with Mercedes-Benz power and this track record includes 36 victories, of which 15 so far were at the wheel of a works Silver Arrow.”
Starting in 2013, Hamilton raced for the Mercedes team, taking victory for the team in the Hungarian Grand Prix for the first time. In winning his second career world championship in 2014, he won 11 races of the season. That championship “saw him become the first driver since Juan Manuel Fangio to win the World Championship in a works Mercedes-Benz.”
About his new deal, Hamilton’s statement in the release reads, “Mercedes is my home and I couldn’t be happier to be staying here for another three years. This is a company filled with real passionate racers, from the board room to the factory floor, and an incredible hunger to win. Even after the success of last year, that hunger is greater than ever – and it’s the same for me, too.”
He also commented about this year’s car and his plans for the future:
“The Mercedes car I am driving right now is the best I have ever had in my career; it’s just so much fun to be out there every weekend, on the limit and fighting to win at every track. Mercedes-Benz began supporting me in 1998 so I am very proud that this contract means I will mark 20 years with Mercedes in 2018.”
Team principal Toto Wolff had this to say about keeping Hamilton on: “Continuity is one of the key factors for delivering success in Formula One and we now have that in place. Lewis enjoyed an historic World Championship season with Mercedes-Benz last year and it was a priority for this season to renew his contract for the next term.”
He also talked about how the timing affected the deal, “We have taken the right amount of time with the process and not rushed ourselves,” he said. “The result is a strong agreement that will enhance Lewis’ association with the Mercedes-Benz brand, and that recognizes and respects the market value of Lewis and of Mercedes in Formula One. Lewis’ sporting track record speaks for itself and he is a great personality for the company. Personally, I am looking forward to continuing to race with the strongest driver pairing in Formula One and to more historic achievements together.”
The press release does not disclose dollar amounts for the contract. “Forbes” is reporting that Hamilton will take home a base salary of $32 million a year plus bonuses, pushing the yearly salary to $45 million; others are reporting a $140 million total. “Forbes” calls it “one of the richest deals in sports” and says only athletes such as boxer, Floyd Mayweather; Ferrari F1 driver, Sebastian Vettel; Argentinian footballer, Lionel Messi; and Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly earn more.
Also according to “Forbes,” the new deal will loosen up some of the restraints Hamilton has had to abide by before in terms of personal endorsements outside of Mercedes sponsors such as UBS and Blackberry. Forbes reports Hamilton’s sponsorship deals were in the $3 million range from 2013 to 2014. In that period, with his $32 million annual F1 salary plus endorsements, he ranked 19th on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid athletes.
Both Hamilton and Mercedes are currently leading the driver and constructor points in the FIA Formula One World Championship. On the day of his new contract announcement, Hamilton drove quickest of the field in both free practices for the Monaco Grand Prix.