If you were Lewis Hamilton and the reality of hanging up your helmet was a prospect that was sooner than later, then you might be looking for a new contract with Mercedes that included hooks into your post-driving career with the team and manufacturer. At least that’s what Lewis seems to be focused on based upon an article over at Autosport.
“Naturally, I think it’s easy just to go and sign that deal and continue not having to think of what’s afterwards. And I’m very conscious of the idea that I do want to continue with Mercedes, I would love to help them on this quest in pushing for change.
“They are taking their cars green, and electrifying more, and I want to help them on that road. I would like to help them in terms of pushing for diversity, because that’s also within the organization, as with every organization out there. There is not enough of it. So there’s a lot to discuss, and a lot to go through.”
The question might be, is Mercedes ready to ink a driving and post-driving contract to set Lewis up with a good transition occupation? If Mercedes feels his brand aligns with theirs and that they can see him as an asset for their brand in the post-driving career, then perhaps they would be amenable to that kind of bifurcated contract that covers both portions of his career.
Only Mercedes knows if Lewis is worth the kind of cash his contract demands and only they know if their brand would benefit from his presence in marketing efforts and milling about their shop looking for ways to benefit their electric car program or other key investment and brand activation.
Lewis is a big part of the success on track for Mercedes and it would be interesting to see if their marketing division within Daimler could quantify the brand and sales impact he’s had on their company.
At first blush, one would say, “of course he has” but that’s not an easy thing to measure to be honest. Mercedes victory has certainly assist the company in sales but parsing those sales to discover how much of it was driven by the melding of the Hamilton and Mercedes brands is a much more elusive thing.
There is reason to believe that his impact is large when you consider the throngs of Honda fans who attached Ayrton Senna’s name, image and achievements with their favorite Japanese car brand. One could suggest that Ferrari gained similar brand impression with Michael Schumacher or Sir Jackie Stewart with Ford or even Rolex for that matter.
So too, one would admit that Lewis’s brand would be an additive to the overall Mercedes image. If that’s the case, then would you be willing to give him an on-track AND off-track contract? What if Toto Wolff wasn’t in the picture to manage it which might be a bit of a game-changer? How much are you willing to extend for a 2-4 year post driving career contract?
The point may be moot as Lewis says he’s not done yet:
“But nothing is set in stone. I think it’s just about talking about it and at the moment, I don’t feel like I’m finished.
“I think there’s always areas to improve. I love racing, I love the challenge and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.”
That may be true but I hear him talking about life away from F1 more than life in it and I think that time will come quickly after a potential 8th title which would put it at 2021. Would Mercedes sign a 1-year deal with Lewis and a multi-year deal for after his retirement? Would they want him to drive for 2-3 more years before giving him a key to the office and a desk in the marketing department?
If I were Mercedes, I wouldn’t. In fact, I would offer him another year and then discuss any potential deals after that. Shrewd? Maybe, but Mercedes holds the key to his 8th title and he wouldn’t win that at another team in 2021. Mercedes also has the Toto Wolff issue to solve for.
Also, if I were Mercedes, I would be concerned about the team post-Lewis and what resources it will take to develop their next champion as Valtteri Bottas doesn’t appear to be the superstar caliber they would be looking for.
Mercedes has to think about life beyond Lewis and there may be many reasons that includes a post-driving career contract but from my seat, I would be thinking more about Lewis’s replacement and what cash I’d have to invest in the 2022 regulation changes and how to get the next champion primed for the podium.