It’s turning into a badly drawn-out soap opera. Most expect Lewis Hamilton to extend his stay with Mercedes for the 2021 Formula 1 season, but it hasn't happened yet. There have been many theories as to why, but former F1 designer Gary Anderson believes the length of the deal is the cause of the delay.
With little over two months until the 2021 season gets underway, a resolution one way or the other is surely not far away, and Anderson thinks it’s in everybody’s interest to get the deal over the line.
"The belief within the Mercedes team is that Hamilton will stay on, but the debate seems to be over the length of the deal," Anderson told The Race. "So it’s about how long he wants to commit for - and for how much - rather than whether he is willing to.
"But it’s in the interests of the three parties that own the team - Mercedes, INEOS and Toto Wolff - to find a solution and get Hamilton’s name on a contract."
Both Hamilton and Wolff have previously stated their intentions to carry on working together into 2021, but with the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, could the team be considering other, less expensive, options.
"He [Hamilton] has to be realistic because everything is suffering financially in the world given the COVID-19 pandemic," Anderson continued. "Even with the rule changes and the cost cap, teams are struggling to pull in the necessary money and with Mercedes cutting back on its wider workforce and these challenges, he does need to buy into that situation and look at the bigger picture."
While I still expect Hamilton to be on the grid and hunting down a record-breaking eighth world title in 2021, the length of this dispute suggests there are one or more serious hurdles getting in the way. And after George Russell's impressive performance at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, Anderson believes that Mercedes would carry on in much the same vein with or without the seven-time world champion.
"This doesn’t make that much difference to the job the team is doing," he added. "Hamilton is a great driver and not having him would be a big loss, but they just have to keep doing what they are doing and rely on Russell and Valterri Bottas to do the job."