Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton has committed his future to Mercedes by signing a lucrative three-year deal with the Brackley team, just days ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
The reigning champion has been in negotiation with Mercedes-Benz since the end of last season regarding his future with the team, and both parties announced prior to arrival in Monaco that a new contract had been signed. Suggested to be in the region of £100m for three years, the deal makes Hamilton Britain’s highest earning sportsman.
He said during a press conference in Monaco: “I am very happy with the team and everyone at Mercedes-Benz is doing a great job. I was very pleased to win the title last year, and that is my aim this year and the next three years,”
Monaco is a race Hamilton loves, as do many of his fellow F1 counterparts, and before his arrival in Grand Prix racing, it was also a track he performed well at in F3 racing.
He added: “This is the race that every Grand Prix driver wants to win. This is a very special race indeed. Qualifying is very important as your position on the grid can make all the difference to your race.”
Hamilton, who has been in scintillating form in 2015, is overwhelming favorite to make it back-to-back world titles, which would take his tally to three in total. He currently leads the overall standings this season, although team-mate Nico Rosberg was triumphant last time out in Barcelona two weeks ago.
Rosberg welcomed Hamilton’s new Mercedes agreement, saying: “Lewis is the world champion and is a driver that everyone aspires to beat. I beat him in the last race, and my plan is to beat him around the streets of Monaco again this weekend.
“Monaco is like a home race to so many of us F1 drivers, the race has a special feeling as the track is like your playground, your back garden. I enjoy this weekend very much.”
The Mercedes team have enjoyed a significant advantage over their rivals so far this season, although the Ferrari team have looked strong during the recent races.
Multiple world champion Sebastian Vettel leads the Ferrari attack and he said this week: “Mercedes are looking very good , but I don’t think they are quite as strong as they were last year – or maybe Ferrari are performing better!
“This is a race I would like to win and I will be doing everything I can to place my red car right in the mix against the Mercedes Silver Arrows.”
The Silverstone-based Sahara Force India team have had their struggles this season but are hopeful of scoring points this weekend with their two cars, driven by Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.
Speaking this week, Hulkenberg said: “I would like to have a good race this weekend as I feel that my F1 career is not going quite as well as I hoped it would.
“A good result in Monaco can really make people take notice. I really enjoy driving for Force India, we have a great team atmosphere and everyone in the team deserves a strong result here. My aim is to score good points on Sunday.”
The Bicester-based Toro Rosso duo, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen, will both be starting their first Monaco Grand Prix. Sainz has experienced the track in Renault 3.5 races, and he said: “After the Spanish Grand Prix, this is the race I have been looking forward to most. The Monaco Grand Prix has so much history and I am looking forward to playing a part in the 2015 edition of this famous race.”