F1

Lewis Hamilton’s £120m contract plan ‘relying on Britain’s richest man’s input’

Lewis Hamilton hopes that Sir Jim Ratcliffe can bankroll a new deal at Mercedes, according to F1 commentator Alexey Popov.

Ratcliffe is chairman and CEO of Ineos and is among the richest people in the UK with Forbes having estimated his worth at £13billion last summer.

Ineos became principal partners of Mercedes last February, signing a five-year agreement with the team.

Hamilton is technically without a team having seen his Mercedes contract expire on December 31.

The seven-time world champion is yet to put pen to paper, with the 36-year-old believed to be keen on a three-year deal worth £120m.

And Popov believes Hamilton is hoping Ratcliffe could bankroll a contract, telling his own podcast: “The British press writes about him [Hamilton] every day.

“The Italians, the Dutch too. Eddie Jordan says he wouldn’t take it, Ecclestone has talked about it. Everyone is trying to figure out what he wants.

“The head of Ineos, Ratcliffe, is also a Sir, as is Hamilton now.

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“Lewis probably thinks that if Mercedes can’t pay him in full, Ratcliffe – one of the richest men in the UK – will cover the difference.”

Mercedes are believed to prefer handing Hamilton just a one-year contract, with former F1 driver Christijan Albers saying the Brit has lost his bargaining power.

“How Hamilton played it… he has of course tried to get extra pay by postponing the contract and becoming World Champion,” Albers told De Telegraaf’s F1 podcast.

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“However, he did not count on George Russell getting into the car.

“If he had decided to sign up four months ago, this situation would not have occurred. That is the risk he has taken by asking for extra salary.”

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