Lewis Hamilton eyes 'Christmas gift' of new Mercedes contract for F1 2021
Lewis Hamilton ends the 2020 season without a deal in place for 2021, but is hoping to finally conclude a new agreement by the end of next week; Red Bull set to decide on Alex Albon or Sergio Perez, while Yuki Tsunoda set to be named at AlphaTauri in the other vacant seat for next season
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 14/12/20 4:45pm
Lewis Hamilton has set the target of finally concluding a new Mercedes contract for 2021 by Christmas.
As he signed off from his historic seventh title-winning year with a third-place finish in the Abu Dhabi GP, attention turned to Hamilton's contract situation with his current deal at the world champions due to expire in just over two weeks' time.
Hamilton, who has long expressed his desire to continue his hugely-successful association with Mercedes, has never previously left a contract renewal this late but talks have been delayed by the rapid-fire nature of the F1 season since July, restrictions around the coronavirus pandemic and, over the past fortnight, the world champion contracting the virus and being sidelined for a race.
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But with the season finally over, and Hamilton continuing to recover from Covid-19 after making his return in Abu Dhabi, the 35-year-old hopes to finally now get the deal done soon.
Speaking to Sky in Italy, Hamilton said a pre-Christmas deal "would be a nice gift for everyone" and said he expected talks to commence properly this week with the Englishman staying in Abu Dhabi for two further days.
He also said in Sunday's post-race press conference: "Hopefully over the next couple of weeks. I would love - we would love - to get it done before Christmas, I think," said Hamilton after Sunday's race.
"I plan to be here next year; I want to be here next year. I think us, as a team, have more to do together and more to achieve both in the sport but even more outside the sport I think. So yeah, I hope we can begin this week, discussions, and hopefully get it tied up before Christmas.
Hamilton was listed by Mercedes on the first version of the driver and team entry list for 2021 published last week
"It is going to happen," said Toto Wolff of a new deal. "There is no reason it is not going to happen."
Mercedes are not the only team still to conclude driver plans for 2021.
Rivals Red Bull are poised to decide in the forthcoming days on whether incumbent Alex Albon or free agent Sergio Perez gets their second seat, while sister team AlphaTauri are set to confirm Japan's 20-year-old Yuki Tsunoda is replacing Daniil Kvyat.
CONFIRMED 2021 FORMULA 1 GRID... SO FAR
Mercedes: TBC and Valtteri Bottas
Red Bull: Max Verstappen and TBC
McLaren: Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris
Aston Martin: Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll
Alpine: Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon
Ferrari: Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz
AlphaTauri: Pierre Gasly and TBC
Alfa Romeo: Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi
Haas: Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher
Williams: George Russell and Nicholas Latifi