Mercedes are ready to break the bank to make Lewis Hamilton the wealthiest Formula One driver in history.
Six-time world champion Hamilton will pay his first visit of the year to Mercedes’ Brackley headquarters on Tuesday after spending much of the winter break in America.
The 35-year-old, who has been linked with a move to Ferrari in 2021, is in the final 12 months of his £40million-a-season deal.
It has been suggested that the Briton’s next contract, one which might prove to be his last in the sport, could earn him closer to a staggering £60m per year.
W10 wears her new colours well 🥰
But we can’t wait to show you what comes next… 🤭
Who’s ready to see W11 on Friday! pic.twitter.com/4tktbWGF8I
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) February 10, 2020
The eye-watering sums play against the backdrop of Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler, reportedly preparing to axe as many as 15,000 jobs.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who revealed he has not spoken to his star driver for two months, said: “You need to respect that a sporting superstar at the peak of his ability, and at the peak of his career, has a limited lifespan where he is able to earn this kind of super money.
“We do respect that and we respect the contribution that Lewis brings to Mercedes both on and off the track.
“Equally, Lewis has always respected that we are Mercedes and there are certain financial realities that are important to us.
“The money side has never been a sticking point [in previous contracts]. It was more about freedom and his projects.
“We need to look at what makes him perform best. We want the best guy on qualifying on Saturday and in the race on Sunday and that will always be my main focus.”
Ferrari have recently tied young star Charles Leclerc to a new long-term contract, but four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel could be moved on at the end of the year, providing a vacancy at the Scuderia.
Wolff, speaking at London’s Royal Automobile Club as Mercedes unveiled a new sponsorship deal with Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS, added: “We would like to have the fastest man in the car.
“I know Lewis wants to be in the fastest car so there is a mutual outcome. It is the obvious pairing going forward.
“There are not many places where Lewis will have the environment and framework that will give him the best base for his ambitions.
“We know what we get with him and we have a trusting relationship. From a rationale standpoint, continuing for a while is the most probable conclusion.”
Hamilton will get the first taste of the Mercedes he hopes will fire him to a record-equalling seventh world title during a behind-closed-doors event at Silverstone on Friday.
Here, Mercedes unveiled its new livery for the forthcoming season which sported significant INEOS branding following the announcement of their five-year partnership.
Passion for success. Investing in the best.
— INEOS (@INEOS) February 10, 2020
Like Hamilton, Mercedes’ future is also uncertain, with the German manufacturer yet to formally commit to the sport beyond this year.
“We like the Formula One platform but at the same time we are in negotiation with the rights’ holder, and things need to be sorted out,” said Wolff.
“It is an ongoing process with a complicated set of contracts and that takes time. The devil is in the detail.”
Mercedes’ rivals Ferrari launch their new car in Italy on Tuesday, ahead of the first winter test in Barcelona next week. The season starts in Melbourne on March 15.