The final piece to the 20-car roster for the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship season has been filled after it was announced that Sir Lewis Hamilton has inked a one-year contract extension with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team as he bids for a record-setting eighth World Championship.
Hamilton is coming off an historic 2020 season, where he won 11 Grand Prix events and claimed his seventh World Championship, tying him with Michael Schumacher for the most F1 titles in history. Though he was absent from the Sakhir Grand Prix late in the season after testing positive for COVID-19 symptoms, he finished no lower than seventh place in 16 of 17 Grand Prix events in 2020 and he wrapped up the title by 124 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas, who will also remain at Mercedes for the 2021 season.
In addition, Hamilton was knighted as part of the United Kingdom’s New Year’s Honours List, becoming the fourth Formula One competitor to receive a knighthood, (Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart).
The 2021 season will mark Hamilton’s 15th full-time season in F1 competition, ninth with Mercedes. Since joining Mercedes in 2013, Hamilton won 74 races and six of his seven overall championships. He currently holds the most victories (95) and the most poles (98) in Formula One.
“I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates,” Hamilton said. “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.”
While Hamilton raced his way to another dominating championship season in Formula One last season, he initially entered this off season with uncertainty and without an established contract for 2021 and beyond. Talks and negotiations regarding a new contract extension were put on hold highly due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and took time before the new deal was announced more than a month before the 2021 F1 season is due to start.
“We have always been aligned with Lewis that we would continue, but the very unusual year we had in 2020 meant it took some time to finish the process,” Toto Wolff, Team Principal/CEO of Mercedes, said. “Together, we have decided to extend the sporting relationship for another season and to begin a longer-term project to take the next step in our shared commitment to greater diversity within our sport. Lewis’s competitive record stands alongside the best the sports world has ever seen, and he is a valued ambassador for our brand and our partners. The story of Mercedes and Lewis has written itself into the history books of our sport over the past eight seasons, and we are hungry to compete and to add more chapters to it.”
Another key element that is included in Hamilton’s new contract with Mercedes is a joint charitable foundation with a purpose towards supporting greater diversity and inclusion in all its forms in motorsports. Last season, Hamilton was a leading advocate in vocalizing his support towards the Black Lives Matter movement and diversity in Formula One.
“I’m equally determined to continue the journey we started to make motorsport more diverse for future generations and I am grateful that Mercedes has been extremely supportive of my call to address this issue,” Hamilton added. “I’m proud to say we are taking that effort further this year by launching a foundation dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the sport. I am inspired by all that we can build together and can’t wait to get back on the track in March.”
Hamilton’s quest for an eighth World Championship is set to begin on March 28 for the 2021 Formula One season-opening Grand Prix event at Bahrain International Circuit.