AFP/Silverstone, United Kingdom
Lewis Hamilton says he is no hurry to extend his contract with Mercedes because he feels sensitive to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has left many people “not eating, starving and without a job.”
The six-time world champion said yesterday, following Mercedes’ confirmation that Valtteri Bottas had re-signed for 2021, that he felt in no rush to do the same, but “will do at some stage”.
Hamilton spoke ahead of this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, where he triumphed on three wheels in last Sunday’s British Grand Prix to complete a hat-trick of successive wins and move 30 points clear of Bottas in the title race.
“I’m sure Toto is getting a bit anxious as I’ve not been that forward about it,” said Hamilton, referring to Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, later adding that he felt relaxed about his own situation.
However, he admitted he was upset by the prospect of “talking numbers” when so many people “aren’t eating, are starving and have lost their jobs.”
“I have stepped back a bit,” he explained. “How long can I wait until it’s more normal?”
He said he felt awkward about the idea of sitting down to negotiate at a time when so many people faced difficulties, but made clear he wants to stay at Mercedes.
“I am 100 per cent committed to my team,” he told Sky Sports F1. “I don’t lie — I don’t want to be anywhere else.”
The world championship leader also said he wanted the British government to commit to teaching with a wider sense of diversity in schools.
He explained that he had fuelled his own sense of injustice from his schooldays into his racing, thanks to the encouragement from his father Anthony Hamilton.
“So many people around the world are on the end of abuse and generally they stay quiet. They don’t have someone around them to stand up for them and say that’s not cool,” he explained.
“I was in the headmaster’s office all the time and I didn’t really understand my own experience, but I have channelled it into my driving all my life.
“My dad always said ‘do your talking on the track’ and don’t react — it wasn’t easy, but now, at this time we are in now, it has brought up a lot of those old emotions for me and I empathise with those from all backgrounds who feel they cant say anything.”
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