Ola Kallenius has previously made it clear he wants Lewis Hamilton to sign a new contract with Mercedes despite recent reports suggesting he is attempting to drive down the Brit’s price and has refused to meet his demands for a lengthy deal. Hamilton has still yet to put pen to paper despite the driver, and the team, wanting to extend their incredibly successful partnership.
It was claimed in December that Daimler chairman Kallenius, who is also the head of Mercedes-Benz, doesn’t share a strong relationship with Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff.
The National said that Kallenius is looking to save over £1billion over the next two years and that reassessing the company’s huge Formula One expenditure is one way to trim down their expenses.
Hamilton is said to earn £40m a year with the Silver Arrows and post-coronavirus pandemic, the Mercedes board are reportedly eager to reduce his salary.
Other reports have also declared that Daimler are not completely sold on handing Hamilton a new deal at all and that their board of directors might prefer to promote George Russell in his countryman’s place.
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That’s despite the 35-year-old winning six of the seven available drivers’ titles in the hybrid engine era and consistently delivering for the Brackley-based outfit.
It has been said Hamilton wants a $200m (£147m) four-year deal but that Mercedes’ parent company Daimler blocked such a commitment in November because they do not want such a lengthy agreement.
But Kallenius’ previous comments may pour doubt on the validity of such claims, with the Daimler decision-maker making it clear he’s a big fan of Hamilton.
“I think Lewis Hamilton is the greatest, or one of the greatest race drivers of all time,” the Swedish executive said. “I’ve known him since he was a teenager.
“I think his dedication and professionalism when it comes to how he has dedicated his life to being the greatest is remarkable and applaudable. And he’s a nice guy, too.
“So we would like to continue this partnership. And then it’s up to Toto in his role to get that done.”
Kallenius earlier also paid credit to Hamilton after his latest title triumph, which drew him level with the iconic Michael Schumacher, in Turkey back in November.
“Huge congratulations to Lewis on this seventh World Championship – what an incredible achievement,” he said.
“Lewis has been a part of our Mercedes family for over 20 years now. He joined us as an incredible karting talent. Today, he’s one of the best drivers of all time.
“Lewis keeps improving even when it might seem like there’s little left to perfect and I’m excited to see where else his journey will take him.
“It’s not just Lewis’ development on track that is impressive but also his inspiring journey off track.
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“Lewis has become a passionate advocate for more diversity and inclusion. He has also taken tangible steps to support this important cause. As a team and as a company we stand with him.
“We are proud you are part of our family, Lewis. Thank you for seven World Championships powered by Mercedes!”
Wolff – who recently signed a new three-year deal of his own – has meanwhile explained that German manufacturer Mercedes have until testing begins in March to tie Hamilton down to a new deal.
“From my point of view, we had such a successful run at championships in the past seven years, that there is no reason not to continue,” the Austrian declared.
“He [Hamilton] is on the top of his game and he will be for a while. And that’s why continuing together is a no-brainer.
“If you refer to why haven’t we got a signed contract? The reason is simple. We always prioritised about getting this championship done, and not being distracted by sometimes difficult discussions, as is the nature of negotiation.
“But then COVID struck. So it has delayed us a little bit, but we are not worried in eventually getting it done.
“We are putting no special date to it, because we don’t want to be put under pressure from you guys [the media] while it’s not signed yet. So sooner or later, it needs to be done. At the latest before we go testing.”
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