LEWIS HAMILTON is worth every penny of his new £40million a year contract according to his Mercedes bosses.
revealed how his F1 team was being restructured thanks to the investment from the UK’s fifth richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who is the Chairman of chemicals firm INEOS.
And in another boost to the world champion, Toto Wolff will remain as the racing team’s principal after he increased his stake in the operation.
It means Wolff, Ratcliffe and Mercedes will become co-owners with an equal shareholding – and all three are committed to getting Hamilton’s new deal done.
Ratcliffe, who is worth around £18bn, said: “I am very clear in my mind that Lewis is the greatest or one of the two or three greatest ever racing drivers, there is absolutely no question of that.
“He is a very likable chap, but all these contract decisions go through Toto, as he runs the team.
“But clearly there has been no diminution of his skills; he is still at the absolute top of his game, despite being 35. There is no sign of any change.”
Wolff, who rowed back on claims that he contemplated leaving his position in the team, also reiterated his desire to keep Hamilton.
He added: “We have had such a successful run for seven years, there is no reason why not to continue.
“He is at the top of his game and he will be for a while. That is why continuing together is a no brainer.
“In terms of why we have not yet signed the contract yet, the reason is simple. We prioritise getting the championship done and not being distracted by sometimes difficult discussions, but we are not worried.
“We are not putting a date on it and sooner or later it will be done at the latest before we go testing.”
Hamilton’s current deal expires on December 31st and while he would not be drawn on the £40million figure, Merc chairman, Ola Kallenius, has also backed the Brit and urged Wolff to get the deal signed.
He said: “I have known him since he was a teenager. I was the Mercedes guy at McLaren in 2002 and 2003 and I could see him move up the ranks.
“I met him when he was 15 and we used to joke that he was the future world champion.
“We would like to continue this partnership and it is up to Toto in his role to get that done.”
Meanwhile, Sergio Perez has been confirmed as a Red Bull driver for 2021 and will partner Max Verstappen.
The Mexican, who finished fourth in the drivers’ championship, was ruthlessly axed by Racing Point, who picked Sebastian Vettel instead.
Perez, 30, has agreed a one-year deal while Alex Albon will be demoted to the team’s test and reserve driver roles.
Red Bull Racing Team Principal, Christian Horner, said: “Alex is a valued member of the team and we thought long and hard about this decision.
“Having taken our time to evaluate all the relevant data and performances we have decided that Sergio is the right driver to partner Max for 2021 and look forward to welcoming him to Red Bull Racing.
“Alex remains an important part of our team as Test and Reserve Driver with a key focus on 2022 development and we would like to thank him for his hard work and contribution.”