Mercedes F1 Team boss Toto Wolff has confirmed that he would like to start contract negotiations with reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton as soon as possible.
It may be remembered that the negotiations were tackled very late last season, and an agreement was not reached until a few weeks before the start of the 2021 campaign. Even then, Mercedes was only able to lock down the British ace to a one-year deal.
Wolff has made it clear that he wants to sit down with Hamilton earlier this time around especially now that the driver himself has publicly expressed his desire to continue driving in F1 beyond the current campaign.
"We have talked about it before and it's good to see [he's said] it out in public," said Wolff, in an interview shared by the official F1 website. "Like I've always said, there's no reason why the marriage shouldn't continue."
The seven-time world champion hinted at his desire to stay in the sport while talking about his decision to volunteer to do tyre testing ahead of last weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix. Wolff explained that he and Hamilton have previously spoken about staying together in the future, but it is an encouraging sign that the Briton shared the same to the public.
"We learned our lesson [with the last contract] that we wouldn't leave it until the Christmas holidays. That was definitely taking it too far," said Wolff.
At the tail end of 2020, plans to sit down to negotiate were derailed when Hamilton contracted COVID-19 in the middle of the three-week period that the team spent in the Middle East for the final races of the year. That meant that Hamilton was unavailable to meet with anyone face-to-face and had to concentrate on recovery. The team was also busy scrambling to get George Russell ready to step in.
That meant that important talks had to be held over conference calls during the holidays.
"I think we are in a very good place and our relationship is growing stronger every year. It's about time to give it a little nudge and start to speak and this is what we are going to do soon," added Wolff.
Meanwhile, Wolff refused to confirm the fate of Valtteri Bottas, who currently occupies the second Mercedes seat. Russell is believed to be on his way to take over, but his chances were hurt when he crashed into Bottas at Imola early this season. "I think we need to look into the season and how the next races unfold and then it is a judgement call I believe. Not a very scientific response but I haven't got any at the moment," he said.