Toto Wolff says a Mercedes contract extension for Lewis Hamilton “is going to happen” and that Hamilton thinks he can continue for at least another five years in Formula 1.
Hamilton’s current Mercedes F1 deal runs to the end of 2023, by which time he will be facing his 39th birthday. He’s spoken previously of not seeing himself racing into his 40s, but also indicated earlier this season that he’s still “enjoying what I’m doing” and “feel like I’ve got plenty of fuel left in the tank”.
“I’m sure we’ll sit down at some stage and talk about the future,” Hamilton said before F1’s August summer break.
During July’s French Grand Prix, Wolff was asked about Hamilton’s prospects of reaching 400 grand prix starts (he’s currently on 305) and indicated discussions between them were focused on the next “5-10” years.
In an interview for Channel 4 F1 with David Coulthard, released on Channel 4 Sport’s YouTube channel on the day of the Singapore GP, Wolff suggested a contract extension for Hamilton was simply a matter of time.
“The advantage is we speak a lot together [both live near each other in Monaco]. Just last week we sat down and he says ‘look, I have another five years in me, how do you see that?’” Wolff said.
“Over time we have just grown together. We are totally transparent with each other. Lewis will be the first one to say ‘I can’t do this anymore’ – because I feel I haven’t got the reactions anymore, or I’ve just lost fun doing it and there is another generation growing up that is just very strong.
“So I have no doubt that whatever we agree on a contract extension, which is going to happen, that we both are always going to discuss, very openly, what does the future hold.”
Wolff described Hamilton as F1’s “shining star” and the “greatest personality that Formula 1 ever had”. He also suggested Fernando Alonso racing competitively in F1 well into his 40s could perhaps act as an example for Hamilton to follow in terms of longevity.
“I don’t know if 40 is that age where you say that is not adequate anymore for a racing driver,” Wolff added.
“If you look at where Fernando is with 41 years, he’s still very much there. Now, is he the same Fernando that he was at 25? I don’t know, but he’s very competitive still.
“You look at Tom Brady [NFL star] who is somebody I really admire for having the discipline in how he manages his life and his sport, he’s 43 or 44 – and he’s on the pitch.
“So Lewis, with the way he leads his life, with the full, ultra-narrow focus on his Formula 1 racing – all the others are just hobbies – I think he can take it quite far.”
Wolff also expects to retain Hamilton’s current team-mate George Russell over the “long term”, having been impressed with Russell’s performances and integration within the current Mercedes set up despite a particularly challenging season so far in 2022.
“George has been great joining the team,” Wolff said. “He’s a good personality, he acts with integrity, he’s very transparent working with Lewis – these two really have added to the team’s development slope this year.
“He was obviously hoping to be in a Mercedes and win races and championships, which he got that timing wrong, but at least he has progressed to the midfield now!
“That time is going to come – he will win races, he will race for championships and I think he absolutely has it in him.
“I feel very good to have him in the team over the long term.”