Lewis Hamilton signs new Mercedes deal for 2019 and 2020
F1 world champion signs contract believed to be worth £40m a year; Hamilton remains the highest-paid British sportsman
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 06/12/18 3:16pm
Lewis Hamilton has signed a new contract with Mercedes to continue driving for F1's reigning world champions in 2019 and 2020.
"I'm very confident that Mercedes is the right place to be over the coming years. Although we have enjoyed so much success together since 2013, Mercedes is hungrier than ever," said Hamilton.
The reigning F1 world champion had been due to become a free agent at the end of the year before putting to pen on an extension reputedly worth £40m annually.
If accurate, Hamilton's new deal will maintain the 33-year-old's status as the highest-paid British sportsman.
Along with Hamilton, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso of McLaren are believed to be the highest-paid drivers in F1, although the exact figures are determined by various sponsorship and performance-related bonuses.
I have been in the Mercedes Family since 1998. I am forever grateful for their continued support, love and protection over these years. I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved together and even more excited for the future!👊🏾 @MercedesAMGF1 #grateful #letsgo #announcelewis pic.twitter.com/sXo0UnKeIs— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) July 19, 2018
"This contract extension has basically been a formality since Toto [Wolff] and I sat down during the winter, so it's good to put pen to paper, announce it and then get on with business as usual. I have been part of the Mercedes racing family for 20 years and I have never been happier inside a team than I am right now," said Hamilton.
Mercedes chief Wolff said at the British GP that the Silver Arrows wanted Hamilton - who has won three of his four titles at Mercedes since leaving McLaren in 2012 - for another five years, adding that the team were waiting "for the right time" for an announcement.
And the Anglo-German outfit have picked their second home race in Hockenheim - where Mercedes-Benz chairman Dieter Zetsche and other key executives will be present.
"There has understandably been a lot of interest and speculation around the whole process, so it's good to put all of that to rest and get this thing announced," said Wolff.
"We signed the final documents this week and didn't want to keep people waiting any longer! There is not much about Lewis as a Formula 1 driver that hasn't been said already - he is one of the all-time greats and his track record speaks for itself."
What next in the F1 driver market?
The length of Hamilton's contract extension puts him in sync with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, both of whom signed new deals with their respective teams last season that run until the end of 2020.
As nobody currently knows what F1 will look like in 2021 and beyond, or which teams will still be part of F1 when the sport's rules and regulations have been rebooted, almost all of the deals around Formula 1 currently expire at the end of 2020.
But Hamilton's re-commitment will likely lead to a domino effect in the F1 transfer market, with Red Bull previously claiming Daniel Ricciardo wouldn't sign his new deal until avenues at the sport's leading two teams are closed.
As Ferrari are set to choose between Kimi Raikkonen and Charles Leclerc for a 2019 seat, Ricciardo, now the sport's major free agent, is set to seal his Red Bull stay.
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Hamilton one of sport's biggest earners
Even before Hamilton's renewal, the Englishman was listed as the 12th highest-earning athlete in the world by business magazine Forbes, ahead of Vettel because of endorsements, and his new contract should lift him into the top-10.
Anthony Joshua is the only other British sportsman in the top-25, while Gareth Bale (35) is the best-paid British footballer.
The F1 drivers closest to Hamilton on the 2018 list are Vettel (18) and Fernando Alonso (39).