Coulthard offers potential reasons for Hamilton contract delay


David Coulthard obviously isn't privy to the contract talks going on between Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, but the former F1 driver can draw on his vast knowledge and experience to offer a few possible reasons for the lingering negotiations.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff recently alluded to a few legal curveballs holding up a deal between the German manufacturer and its star driver.

However, the Austrian also expressed his confidence that Hamilton and his employer will eventually put pen to paper, with the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain on March 12 seen as the ultimate deadline to seal a deal.

Whether each party is driving a hard bargain or nitpicking details, Coulthard says contract talks always involve a fair amount of gamesmanship and maneuvering.

"There is lots of games that goes on," Coulthard told Express Sport. "As to why there isn't an announcement regarding Lewis, it could be a number of reasons.

"It could be that Mercedes feel they have gotten all of the value they are going to get out of Lewis Hamilton.

"Lewis Hamilton breaking the Championship record this year, does that serve Lewis or does it serve Mercedes more?

"If it serves Lewis more being an eight-time world champion then there's nothing really in it for Mercedes.

"If it serves Mercedes more then it doesn't really bother Lewis because he still gets an eighth title.

"Business is business. Nobody just gives money away because somebody is nice or somebody is good at what they're doing. There has to be an agreement on what the perceived value is."

The 13-time Grand Prix winner also pointed to marketing and image rights as a potential source of disagreement between Mercedes and Hamilton.

"Maybe Lewis wants more marketing rights to use his image with Mercedes, which I expect he is not able to now," explained the Channel 4 commentator.

"He can use his own personal image, he is a Tommy Hilfiger ambassador, but he wouldn't have the right to have a picture alongside a Lewis Hamilton vodka with a Formula One car behind him because those rights belong to the team. Maybe he is negotiating those.

"You could write an encyclopedia on what could be in a contract."


From Coulthard's 14-year experience of negotiating contracts in F1, special clauses also cause lengthy and complicated debates between parties.

"Basically, if you can imagine it, it can be in a contract," added the Scot.

"Some drivers have specific drivers, they have names saying they will not accept 'him' as a team-mate.

"An example of that could have been [Alain] Prost when he went to Williams, he could have stipulated that he would have any team-mate but not Ayrton [Senna] because their relationship had broken down at that point.

"Ayrton declared that would drive for Williams for free to try and destabilize Prost's negotiations in 1993 before he eventually got a deal done with McLaren."

For all the speculation and intrigue surrounding Mercedes and Hamilton's contract talks, Coulthard hinted that a deal has perhaps already been signed and sealed.

"It could well be a media strategy, so let's keep an open mind on that," he concluded.

"Again, just because they may have signed somebody doesn't mean they have got to put it out straight away.

"It could be a way of maintaining interest in Lewis and Mercedes if you put your media hat on, and that might not be a bad thing - I'm not saying it is, I'm just giving a potential."

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