Lewis Hamilton reckons he has the best boss one could wish for in Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff who has shown patience and goodwill by indulging their star driver during a protracted negotiation period between the two parties which had reached a stalemate but has now been resolved.
The Briton was speaking in the eve of the German Grand Prix weekend, shortly after he and Mercedes confirmed a two-year extension deal which will see the four times Formula 1 World Champion bank anything between $52-million and $60-million per year until the end of 2020.
The contract negotiation process was drawn out, but in the end it was a mere formality as the two parties have much vested in one another and, despite some tense moments over the years, it is clear that the personal bond is now deeper than ever before.
Speaking to reporters at Hockenheim, Hamilton opened up with regards to his relationship with Wolff, his boss since he joined the German team back in 2013.
“Honestly, Toto is a great human being and a great manager,” explained Hamilton. “We have got a great relationship and it has gone from strength to strength. We have had our ups and downs as every relationship does but it has been one of a lot of growth.”
On this occasion, his third contract with the team, Hamilton deliberately took his time to put pen to paper as Formula 1 in the Liberty Media era is facing a new future, the reigning world champion cited this as a reason for the delay in signing.
Mercedes were said to be angling for a three-year deal with an option for two more, while Hamilton was adamant he wanted his slate clear for 2021 and beyond. This apparently is where it all got stuck until a compromise was reached after the British Grand Prix weekend.
Hamilton continued, “I really appreciate Toto being so patient with me. Most people would not have been given the time frame I chose to take, but the one thing that shows is the trust we have between each other.”
Talk of Hamilton contemplating a Ferrari move briefly surfaced during the madness of the Silly Season, but this was clearly never an option, “I said from day one I am not looking anywhere else, I’m not talking to anyone else, I am not investigating to see what other options there are, I’m not playing you against anybody else.”
“I know there are drivers calling you, which I expect, I also trust you are not thinking to do anything else so we can take our time.”
“It has been great. I am really happy with the process. I enjoyed that negotiation phase. It is intense, it is a learning experience because you learn a lot about the person you are speaking to and it is an interesting dynamic – but one that I have enjoyed doing.”
“This is my third contract I did with the team and I am just really, really excited about the plan and mental focus of what I want to do in this team and achieve in this team, which I am not going to elaborate on, but I am excited about this journey and the next couple of years. I think we can do some great things.”
At the German Grand Prix, on Sunday, Hamilton will line-up on the grid for the 109th time as a Mercedes driver, one race short of his spell with McLaren. With the Silver Arrows he has won three world titles, adding to the single one he won with the Woking outfit which groomed him for the big league.