Five times world champion Lewis Hamilton received his 2018 Formula 1 trophy at the FIA Awards in St Petersburg on Friday night and while doing so revealed that he signed a two-year extension with Mercedes.
During the event, streamed live on Facebook, Hamilton, on stage with FIA president Jean Todt and Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, Hamilton, confirmed a new deal which should see him in the top flight with the Silver Arrows until the end of 2021.
During his acceptance speech on stage, Hamilton said, “I just signed for another two years, it was a ten-hour long negotiation with Toto, so… I think it was pretty good (smiling) and uhm, and so I am excited for the next couple of years.”
“But right now I’m happy that the racing’s over. Next year’s going to be so tough, the seasons are getting longer and longer. I don’t know how long I’m going to go, currently two years sounds good for me. But I still love racing so maybe I’ll be going a lot longer. Who knows?”
He also red-faced the hosts when he mentioned, “My parents actually wanted to be here but they had a problem with the visa thing.”
The Mercedes driver was also the recipient of the FIA’s Personality of the Year award, which surprised him, “I was not expecting that! Who voted for this one? It’s amazing to see so many individuals here. We all share so much in common – trying to be the best we can be. I’m very privileged to be up here.”
Earlier, Hamilton was a no-show at an official news conference before he was due to collect his trophy on Friday, with his Mercedes team saying he felt unwell.
They said the Briton, who was in St Petersburg, was attending the awards ceremony, however.
“I think maybe he’s not coming to the press conference because he’s fed up with always the same questions from the same guys,” joked Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff when questioned about his driver’s absence.
“No, he’s not well. He’s attending the championship celebrations tonight and that’s what matters,” added the Austrian.
Ferrari’s runner-up Sebastian Vettel and team mate Kimi Raikkonen did attend.
Wolff said Hamilton had barely made a mistake on track this year but was still looking for ways to improve, and had discussed that on the plane to Russia.
Mercedes are collecting the constructors’ championship trophy for the fifth year in a row, a feat only previously achieved by Ferrari.
Under Formula 1’s sporting regulations, the top three drivers in the championship must attend the prize giving ceremony.
Hamilton has not hidden his dislike of awards ceremonies in the past, while media commitments were also cut back last season.