Lewis Hamilton “always recognised” the “difficult” global situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic throughout his latest Formula 1 contract negotiations, according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

On Monday it was announced that Hamilton had finally committed to a new deal, signing a one-year contract with Mercedes for the upcoming 2021 season as he bids to become the outright most successful driver of all time by winning an eighth world title.

Continued delays resulted in a number of theories and speculation surrounding what had held up the new deal from being finalised, ranging from a reported dispute over salary to a driver veto, but Wolff rubbished such suggestions as “baseless” rumours and stressed that various factors caused the situation to be dragged out.

SEE ALSO: What a one-year deal means for Hamilton, Mercedes, and the 2022 F1 driver market

Wolff insisted that Hamilton’s pay “wasn’t the sticking point” in negotiations and said that the Briton was always mindful of the current global financial impact of COVID-19.

“Lewis has always recognised that this is a very difficult period,” says Wolff.

“Difficult in the sense of difficult for everybody. Difficult from a health point of view. There’s much more important topics than F1 racing, and also that the auto industry is in a transformation phase.

"So, the money topic wasn’t the sticking point. It was more about letting us get going quickly for 2021.

“We respect that a sportsperson has a shelf-life and that you need to optimise the outcome whilst being active,” he added.

“But on the other side, Lewis has a global perspective of what is going on out there and he always recognised that.”

Wolff said that both parties have always been “quite aligned” over salary expectations and indicated that Hamilton’s appreciation of the team and wider perspective of the world meant he was not pushing for unreasonable demands.

“We have always been quite aligned of what the other side would expect,” he explained.

“For me, he’s the best driver. He has a huge global following, much beyond the racing fan and he has won seven championships without making major mistakes in the last few years. Like many in the team and the wider organisation, he’s an important pillar of the success.

“On the other side, Lewis recognises that he’s one of 2000 that we have within our team and that it’s not two superstars, but we are 2000 superstars. And each of us contributes to the team’s success.

“Because he has this helicopter perspective from the wider world out there, it was a very tough year for us personally, from a health standpoint, and also from an economical standpoint, so he knew that even though he has delivered on his side, there is a economical reality out there that is important to respect.”

 

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