Even before F1: Drive to Survive dropped on Netflix and turned everyone into a sudden fan, Lewis Hamilton was already a name known around the world. Having made his F1 debut in 2007 driving for McLaren before later switching to Mercedes in 2013, Hamilton has continued to defy all expectation as he emerges as a once-in-a-generation driver, with the kind of tactical skill and ability that few could ever dream of. To see him drive is to witness the kind of perfect execution that makes Formula 1 so riveting, particularly in a sport where a single lapse of concentration can see a car veer from the course in a blink of an eye, spinning wildly out of control and taking with it any hopes of success for the team.
For Hamilton, his career is an illustrious one that needs little by way of introduction. The British driver has won a staggering 7 world championships, 103 race wins and 103 pole positions. As one Twitter fan pointed out, such statistics mean Hamilton has more titles, wins and pole positions than the whole 2023 grid combined, who have a total of just 4 championships, 90 race wins and 89 pole positions between them.
Being the most successful driver in the sport’s history, it’s not surprising to find that Hamilton is also the sport’s wealthiest driver. But as the Mercedes star now finds himself out of contract at the close of the upcoming 2023 season after signing a deal worth $147 million for two-years in 2021, all eyes are on Hamilton and his next steps. Under his current deal, Hamilton continues to sit pretty amongst the wealthiest athletes in the world, with Forbes even listing him at number 17 on the Highest Paid Athletes list for 2022, taking in $93.8 million across contracts and sponsorships last year alone.
lewis has more titles, wins and poles positions than the whole grid combined next year there's no argument who is the goat pic.twitter.com/9rIY9yMQJw— ari ????44 (@ari_lh44) November 21, 2022
According to reports from French outlet 20 Minutes however, Hamilton is eyeing a new contract possibly worth $217.8 million across two years, the same amount he would make under current contract if he won the World Drivers’ Championship. The publication also reports that Hamilton is asking for an additional contract as a Mercedes ambassador after he retires, worth an estimated $389.6 million over 10 years. Should he sign such a deal, Hamilton would pocket $680.9 million over the next 13 years.
Fox Sports reports that the amounts would be financed significantly by Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of chemical multinational Ineos which also happens to be the principal partner of Mercedes-AMG Petronas and holds a 33 per cent stake in the team. It comes after news of Ratcliffe and Hamilton being closely linked with a financial takeover of Manchester United, with Ratcliffe said to have already confirmed his interest in buying the team from the Glazer family.
Speaking about the potential takeover, Hamilton said: “Jim’s part boss but partner – I’d say we’re more partners because we’re in this together and I hope in the future to do something with Jim and build with him. I do want to get more and more involved in teams because I really do believe in Black ownership – there is a lack of it in sports – and Black equity.”
According to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, negotiations with Hamilton are yet to take place. Speaking to the Beyond the Grid podcast, Wolff expressed that he was confident of the Brit re-signing. “Lewis is part of the team, and the team is part of Lewis. [There’s] no reason not to continue. We are so aligned – in the last 10 years our relationship has grown.”
He added, “It’s just a matter of him physically being back in Europe, sticking our heads together, wrestling a bit, and then leaving the room with white smoke after a few hours.”