Niki Lauda would have signed up Lewis Hamilton for 2021 “at any cost”, according to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
F1 legend Lauda, who died in 2019, ran the German team alongside Wolff. And so the latter Austrian was asked what Lauda would have done amid the farcically-delayed recent contract negotiations with Hamilton.
“Niki always seems to be there with me when I am in situations where I would have wanted his advice,” Wolff told the German broadcaster RTL.
“And so I ask myself ‘What would Niki have said?’. The answer is that Niki always had two caps on – that of the driver and of the team leader. He could see from both perspectives.
“He would have said ‘Lewis is the best driver and he suits Mercedes. This combination should be pursued at any cost’. Sorry, not at any cost, but in the sense of a good sporting future for both him and the team,” Wolff added.
However, the lengthy delay in signing the deal, and its ten-month duration, is raising many questions about what lies ahead in the Hamilton-Mercedes collaboration.
Hamilton’s father Anthony is suggesting that his 36-year-old son is not even setting a record eighth world championship as his “target” for this season.
“I don’t think the record is the target,” he told Talksport radio. “There’s a realisation that obviously he’s getting older and wants to do other things in life.
“There’s more to life than racing, but for now he’s happy to do another year,” Hamilton snr added.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Hamilton’s 2021 contract includes an automatic single-year renewal option. The Italian newspaper explained that it means that in the event of future stalled negotiations, the collaboration can simply roll into the following season.