Lewis Hamilton has confirmed that talks have been concluded on a lucrative new contract with Mercedes, with the reigning Formula 1 world champion on the brink of putting pen to paper on a deal that could be worth more than £27 million a year.
According to reports, the new deal will comprise a basic salary of £20.9m rising to £27m should the 30-year-old Briton retain his world title this year.
Hamilton himself conducted the negotiations with the top brass at Mercedes, notably motorsport boss Toto Wolff, and indicated that it is all but a done deal, with the paperwork now in the hands of the lawyers to sign off.
“It should be done this week,” said Hamilton. “There is no reason why it shouldn’t be. Honestly, it’s 99.6 per cent done. There’s no negotiating left, it’s just legal stuff.”
According to BBC Sport, Hamilton’s new contract will see him command a basic salary similar to the deal he signed with Mercedes when he joined the German team from McLaren in 2013. His annual earnings could then exceed £27m depending on how many races he wins this season, and whether he can clinch the third world title of his career.
In addition to his Mercedes contract, Hamilton already nets nearly £2m from personal endorsements with Bombardier and IWC Schaffhausen and has also had lucrative tie-ups with Santander, Tag Heuer watches and Reebok.
Hamilton leads this season’s championship by three points from Sebastian Vettel after two races, however he admitted that Ferrari have given him food for thought after Vettel’s victory in Malaysia at the weekend.
The German’s win came just a fortnight after a Mercedes one-two in Australia had suggested 2015 would be as easy for the Brackley-based marque as 2014, and it totally blind-sided Hamilton.
“I didn’t see it coming,” added Hamilton, forced to settle for second behind Vettel, with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg third. “I went into the race very open minded in that I knew things would be tougher, but even so I went in with a good feeling we would be able to fight and win the race.
“In the end it was damage limitation. If that was a bad day, where we still get second and third, then that’s pretty good.”
Hamilton, though, appreciates he now has a battle on his hands if he is to win that third championship, and not just with Rosberg. “I don’t think the win was a one-off. I don’t think they (Ferrari) were lucky or it was a fluke. They just did a solid job,” assessed Hamilton.
“But nor do I think it was a wake-up call for us. I don’t think we were in need of one, after all we won by 30 seconds in the last race.
“But regardless of whether you’re winning everyone can always do with...not a kick, like a pinch. It has given us a pinch to suggest, ‘Oh, okay, we’ve got a race on our hands’.
“We’re a racing team, and we will be quicker in the next race. We’ll manage, we’ll be absolutely fine.
“We’ve a great group of people, a great approach, and from this we’ll take a step back. They (Ferrari) are too close to us in the championship so we’ll work very hard to analyse what we learned and apply it so it doesn’t happen again at the next race.”
BRITISH SPORT’S BIG EARNERS
LEWIS HAMILTON – The two-time world champion topped the last British sporting rich list with an estimated wealth of £68million. As well as his new £27m Mercedes deal, he nets nearly £2m in personal endorsements.
GARETH BALE - The Wales winger is said to be the best paid British sports star currently with a £23.2m deal (£256,000 weekly salary) at Real Madrid as well as bonuses and sponsorship deals. Has trademarked his ‘Eleven of Hearts’ logo goal celebration which could earn him £10m a year.
WAYNE ROONEY - The England captain is the Premier League’s richest player with a net worth in excess of £60m. Signed a five-and-a-half year deal at Manchester United in 2014 worth more than £70m. Also earns £3m-plus in endorsement deals.
RORY McILROY - The world’s No 1 golfer’s annual earnings are set to surge from the £15.5m mark and swell a personal fortune of £30m after his double major success in 2014. Completing a career Grand Slam at next week’s Masters could see him earn £50m per annum.
ANDY MURRAY - The Scot added £8m to his personal fortune when he won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in 2013. His career earnings on the ATP Tour now stand close to £25m. Commercial deals have taken his personal wealth beyond £40m.
JESSICA ENNIS-HILL - Britain’s top sportswomen lag behind the men on the rich list with veteran golfers Laura Davies and Catriona Matthew leading the field with respective personal totals of £8m and £7m. Olympic heptathlon champion Ennis-Hill has built up a £3m fortune through prize money, endorsements and advertising campaigns.
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