Lewis Hamilton has signed a one-year deal to remain at the Mercedes Formula One team until the end of 2021, putting an end to a lengthy negotiation period between team and driver.
Hamilton, who has driven for Mercedes since 2013 and won six of his seven titles with the team, had previously signed multiyear deals with the world champions but on this occasion has committed to only one more year.
Negotiations over his new contract started in December last year and have been the source of extensive speculation as they have dragged out over the past two months.
Although the new deal is shorter than Hamilton’s previous Mercedes contracts, it includes the launch of a joint charitable foundation aimed at supporting greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the foundation was the start of a “longer-term project” based on a shared commitment to improving diversity in the sport.
Hamilton, the only Black driver in F1, has been outspoken about the sport’s lack of diversity and last year set up a commission aimed at increasing the representation of Black people in U.K. motorsport.
“I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates,” Hamilton said in a Mercedes statement. “Our team has achieved incredible things together and we look forward to building on our success even further, while continuously looking to improve, both on and off the track.
“I’m equally determined to continue the journey we started to make motorsport more diverse for future generations, and I am grateful that Mercedes has been extremely supportive of my call to address this issue.
“I’m proud to say we are taking that effort further this year by launching a foundation dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the sport. I am inspired by all that we can build together and can’t wait to get back on the track in March.”
Hamilton’s previous contracts have never been announced so close to the start of a new season, but Wolff said the unusual circumstances of last year’s pandemic-affected season meant there were a number of delays this time.
“We have always been aligned with Lewis that we would continue, but the very unusual year we had in 2020 meant it took some time to finish the process,” Wolff said.
“Together, we have decided to extend the sporting relationship for another season and to begin a longer-term project to take the next step in our shared commitment to greater diversity within our sport.
“Lewis’ competitive record stands alongside the best the sports world has ever seen, and he is a valued ambassador for our brand and our partners. The story of Mercedes and Lewis has written itself into the history books of our sport over the past eight seasons, and we are hungry to compete and to add more chapters to it.”
The first race of the 2021 season will get underway in Bahrain on March 28, with Hamilton due to take to the track for the first time this year two weeks earlier at preseason testing.