Lewis Hamilton’s new contract as important for Mercedes as for Hamilton himself – Di Resta

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Former F1 driver Paul di Resta says he’s not “surprised” by Lewis Hamilton’s two-year contract extension with the Brackley-based German team, as he believes the seven-time world champion needs Mercedes as much as they need him in the future.

Hamilton put pen to paper on Friday ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, committing to a further two years as he chases down a record-breaking eighth world title.

It means the Briton will be just shy of his 39th birthday when the contract comes to an end in 2024, as he looks to become the most successful driver in F1 history alongside the seven-time world champions.

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Hamilton won six of his seven titles alongside the team, with over 70 race victories with the outfit since he joined from McLaren in 2013.

Yet, Di Resta did believe there was an interesting talking point to take away from the announcement.

“I think the surprise was he was talking about last week (and) they had already chatted and I guess what it was, was a one-page document that said, ‘we’re going to extend the contract.’ Why would you not want him at the team,” Di Resta told Sky Sports F1.

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“Why would he not want to enter the new generation of Formula One? Especially on the back of all their success they’ve had.

“But if there’s ever a time they’re up against it, get their heads together and get stability, it’s now, because Red Bull and Max Verstappen are on the charge, they are there.

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“And Lewis needs to be at his best, they need to set the team up surrounding him, but absolutely the right choice for them.

“It’s nice to see it’s nailed on through early in the season.”

Since joining Mercedes, Hamilton has enjoyed 77 race victories and 74 pole positions to date, alongside his six titles, and will now work alongside Mercedes as they enter a new era of F1 with the 2022 regulation changes.

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Contract talks were lengthy to the end of last season and into the start of 2021, however, Mercedes themselves said the delays were not planned, with a disrupted end to the F1 season – in which both Hamilton and his team-boss contracted COVID-19.

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The announcement was finally made early this year, that he would be remaining at the team for another year, with the length of the contract prompting questions of his retirement.

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And Di Resta believes he knows why contract negotiations were a lot quicker this season.

“Well, I guess you’ve been through all the documents and you’ve been through what you wanted to change,” Di Resta continued.

“Formula One is about to go through a massive change and that’s probably where it was.

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“But I think it’s just when you get together at some points, some conversations are easier than others but that’s why I think it was such a positive thing it’s happened so early.

“But at the same point, Mercedes needs Lewis as much as Lewis needs Mercedes.

“And then the reality is there’s only two drivers on this grid that can kind of go head to head against big rivals and that’s Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton so they absolutely have to get it done and they have to pay him whatever he wants to get paid to make him happy and when he gets in that car smile.”

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Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert agreed with his Sky Sports F1 colleague and added that it’s an exciting time now for British fans.

“It does work [Hamilton alongside Mercedes], but there’s a bit of work that needs to be done to make sure this eighth championship can come his way. It’s going to be a tough one.

“If he does achieve it, I think it’s going to be probably his best championship win, just because of the fight he’s gonna have with Max.

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“There’s no doubt with Max and him fighting out this year and beyond, I think that’s great stuff for us British fans.”

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