By Shwetha Surendran
Boston University News Service
Putting an end to months of speculation on failed contract talks, reigning seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has agreed to a new one-year contract extension with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team for 2021.
“I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates,” Hamilton said in a statement. “Our team has achieved incredible things together, and we look forward to building on our success even further, while continuously looking to improve, both on and off the track.”
Driving a dominant 2020 season, Hamilton clinched his seventh title, a feat only ever achieved by Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher. With a contract in place for 2021, alongside long-time teammate Valtteri Bottas, a history-making eighth title may be on the horizon.
Much like his on-track success in 2020, the 36-year-old driver’s off-track activities were just as impressive.
As the only Black F1 driver on the grid, Hamilton has been vocal about his support of the Black Lives Matter movement and has rallied for increased diversity in the sport. Last year, the British driver announced the launch of The Hamilton Commission, aimed at engaging more young Black people in the world of motorsports.
“I’m equally determined to continue the journey we started to make motorsport more diverse for future generations,” Hamilton said. “I am grateful that Mercedes has been extremely supportive of my call to address this issue.”
Mercedes and Hamilton have been a victorious combination since he signed for them in 2013. Still, with new regulations kicking in from the 2022 season, the one-year contract does raise the question of if the 2021 campaign will be Hamilton’s last hurrah.
The technical regulation shake-up for 2022 is set to be the biggest overhaul in the sport’s history.
Not only does it alter the look of the car to ensure closer racing, but introduces a budget cap for the teams. While the rules were meant to take effect in 2021, they had been pushed back due to the pandemic.
If Hamilton does decide to hang up his boots at the dawn of a new technical era in Formula One, current Williams Racing and Mercedes Junior driver George Russell has been closely associated with the team as a replacement.
Hamilton’s hunt for a coveted––and possibly final–– eighth title will begin at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.
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