Lewis Hamilton insists the proposed salary cap for Formula 1 drivers that would come into effect from 2023 has “nothing to do” with a delay to him agreeing a new Mercedes contract.

Despite being out-of-contract at the end of the year, Hamilton is yet to sign an extension to remain at Mercedes for 2021 and beyond, though both parties have stated their respective commitment to each other.

Hamilton previously suggested in July that he wished to stay in F1 for “at least three more years” but admitted he felt uncomfortable agreeing to a “big contract” amid global financial uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to media ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, Hamilton stressed that a plan to restrict driver salaries to $30 million for both drivers combined - which has reportedly been agreed provisionally by the teams - has not played a factor in the ongoing delay over a new deal.

“It has nothing to do with it,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t even know that was being discussed. I think from a driver’s point of view it’s a surprise to us.

“We’ve obviously heard of the idea a while ago, I think it was last year in France maybe, but it was the first we have heard of it this week.

"I think it’s important that the GPDA work closely with F1 when we get into discussions moving forwards.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who is also out of contract and currently weighing up a possible change to his role for 2021, revealed that it is unlikely Hamilton’s long-awaited deal will be finalised until the F1 world championship world titles have been sealed.

Mercedes is likely to clinch a record seventh straight constructors’ world title this weekend - needing just a fourth place finish at Imola - while Hamilton could claim his seventh drivers title at the next round in Turkey at the earliest.

And Wolff is confident that Mercedes and Hamilton will have no issues reaching a compromise regarding the Briton’s salary given the current global financial situation.

“The contribution that Lewis has had to the team’s success and also to Formula 1 gaining profile outside of the hardcore fans has been tremendous,” Wolff said.

“That’s what we will always respect, what we have honoured in the past and what we will honour in the future.

“Lewis and I have always had respect for each other’s position and we dread that particular day because we have quite some discussions about the topic but we have always achieved a situation where we had a compromise that worked for both of us and I have no doubt that it will be the same this time around.”

Speaking to Sky Sports at the Portuguese Grand Prix, Hamilton gave his biggest indication yet that he is planning for life after F1, but insisted that he will be on the grid in 2021.

“In between this time I definitely think about what’s next,” Hamilton explained.

“I’m working on different projects away from this, nothing that’s really big enough for me to talk about right this second, but I’m working on those other things whilst trying to be the best prepared I can be.

“I don’t think I’m at my peak, I think I’m in a good area for sure and I still want to continue to race but I don’t know how much longer that will be.

“It’s definitely not going to be a long time before I stop, so this is a period of time to slowly work out what the future holds. I can say I plan to still be here next year, so at least you’ve got a bit of time not to worry.”

 

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