Coronel understands Hamilton's decision: 'More competition'

08-02-2021 15:40
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Coronel understands Hamilton's decision: 'More competition'

Lewis Hamilton will once again appear on the starting grid for Mercedes in 2021. It took a long time for the two parties to come to an agreement, but finally a contract has been put on the table that both are at peace with. Tim Coronel saw the news pass by and was not surprised.

"Gosh what a weird thing," Coronel cynically let out in conversation with GPblog on the news that an agreement is in place. It took a long time for Mercedes to officially announce that the reigning world champion will also drive for the German team in 2021. "On the one hand I do understand that there were some things playing in the background, but I did assume that they would go along with it, they can't do without each other."

Much changed since 2013

From 2013 Hamilton has been linked to Mercedes and in those eight seasons seven constructor titles have been won and six times Hamilton took the drivers' title. For Coronel, that long time together has also caused the possible problems in recent negotiations. "If I understand correctly, Mercedes has a different approach than a few years ago," he said.

"Hamilton is also a multiple world champion in the meantime, so I think the manager has also gone a bit harder on that business-wise. Then I can quite imagine that there are quite a few things going on behind the scenes."

Mercedes and Hamilton both took their time in the negotiations, although there were also many discussion points between them.

'Verstappen clause' logical choice

"I don't know the contract of course, but I imagine there were definitely some tensions." One of the tensions between Mercedes and Hamilton would lie in a clause in which Hamilton would have a veto over his teammate, which was also labelled in the media as the 'Verstappen clause'. Mercedes, however, immediately dismissed these rumors, although Coronel expects it to have been on the table.

"As Hamilton's manager, I can imagine that he would want it. They really did work on that, it's actually quite a logical question. When you, as a seven-time world champion, have taken a certain team to such a high level collectively and with more and more competition, from both the side of George Russell and from the side of Max Verstappen, then you do want to protect your own market value."

Verstappen biggest threat

Hamilton's one-year contract means that negotiations will have to be restarted after the 2021 season. A one-year contract also gives flexibility for Mercedes and Hamilton, with the upcoming rule changes for 2022. "I think there are tensions on both sides, otherwise it wouldn't be a one-year contract. If you are sure you are going to continue together, it is often a longer contract."

"With the new rules coming in, I can also imagine that you are looking at alternatives, should this arise. Both from the Hamilton side and the Mercedes side." For Hamilton, 2022 would be a great time to say goodbye, with a possible eighth world title.

"I don't see it that way. I think he only stops with the hot breath of Max on his neck, as long as he wins he will just continue to race and make money." According to Coronel, it was therefore a formality that Hamilton would re-sign, given Mercedes' current form. That the contract negotiations took so long does indicate that there are cracks in the relationship between Mercedes and the Brit.

Russell in 2022?

"If Hamilton really maintains a rigid attitude, on a financial level or whatever, then as Mercedes you could say, 'Then you've made yourself too expensive now, so then we'll go with Russell'. That could also be a year, maybe Max would be released after that, although I don't see it happening any time soon that he's leaving Red Bull Racing," Coronel concluded.

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