Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted that negotiating a new contract with Lewis Hamilton has become super awkward as the pair have become close friends over the years.
The seven-time Formula 1 Champion’s contract with Mercedes runs out at the end of the 2023 season and his future with in the sport has been under continuous speculation given the rough patch the team has been going through for the last couple of seasons – since the launch of the current “ground effect” era of regulations.
But both Mercedes and Hamilton insist they are going to reach an agreement to continue their collaboration, with Toto Wolff recently telling ESPN, that it feels awkward talking money and contracts with a close friend, which is what Hamilton has become after his 11 years with the eight-time Constructors’ Champions.
“It’s super awkward,” Wolff admitted. “Every three years we know that we have this moment. And it’s like negotiating financial terms with your best friend, with a close friend.
“How do you tackle that? Normally you don’t have such a situation. I want the best for him, but in that role I need the best for the team. That can be the only time in our ten or 11 years when we are together and our objectives diverge.
Hamilton’s management team make talks less awkward
“At the end of the day, talking about money with your friend is difficult. Penny helps [Penni Thow, Hamilton’s manager]. Penni has been keeping us in check and we have found a good modus operandi with her about how we talk. We avoid talking to each other about money but we both talk to Penni,” Wolff explained.
As for the status of the negotiations, Wolff insists they are moving on, and like every time these talks with Hamilton take place, people will keep ask questions, but in they end a positive conclusions are reached.
“It’s been 11 years that I’ve that we’ve been together, and every single time when we talk about Lewis contract, it’s six months of ‘where are we and what is happening?’,” Wolff looked back.
“And we keep seeing the same thing; that we’re just rolling on, it’s not any difficult contract negotiations, it’s just putting a different timeline and a few different numbers in there. And that’s what we do. And we’re, we’re working on this.
“It’s a work in progress, bouncing emails back and forth. And eventually we’re going to sign it,” the Austrian summed up.
While Wolff claims the “awkwardness” in Hamilton’s contract negotiations is down to their friendship, one can argue it is caused by other factors, mainly Mercedes’ current poor form, Hamilton entering the twilight of his career and trying to cash out on his legacy before retirement with both parties knowing they have no other better options than sticking together, for now that is.