Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he “very much” hopes seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton will extend his stint at the team into next season.

Hamilton signed a new one-year extension to his current Mercedes contract in February to keep the 36-year-old at the team for 2021 as both he and Mercedes look to clinch an eighth F1 world championship this season.

The Briton has made it clear he has no intention of retiring from F1 at the end of the year and relished his battle against Max Verstappen as he narrowly beat the Red Bull driver to claim victory at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix three weeks ago.

And Wolff said he sees no reason why his star driver would not want to remain with the Mercedes team.

“I very much hope so,” Wolff replied when asked if he wanted Hamilton to stay at Mercedes for 2022.

“The journey that we have had together was very successful. He has been a Mercedes driver – a Mercedes kid since his go-karting years. He never raced a single weekend in Formula 1 without a Mercedes power unit, so it’s the logical continuation of the story.”

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas is also out of contract at the end of the year and Wolff is determined to finalise Mercedes’ 2022 driver line-up well before the conclusion of the campaign in a bid to avoid a repeat of the delayed negotiations over Hamilton’s latest deal.

Meanwhile, Mercedes junior driver George Russell’s contract with Williams runs out at the end of 2021 and the 23-year-old Briton could force himself into the picture for a drive at the German manufacturer, which has also been linked with a move for Verstappen.

“We don’t want to leave it until January to confirm the two drivers,” Wolff added.

“Valtteri [Bottas] was pretty regular during the summer, this is when it should happen. Also, to give the driver peace-of-mind, or be able to concentrate on the job.

“And obviously for next year there’s lots of balls in the air and we will always try to do the best for the team long-term while also giving total loyalty to our current driver line-up.

“We are not doubting either Valtteri or Lewis but discussions obviously are going to happen – but not in January next year."

 

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