F1: Lewis Hamilton extends Mercedes contract
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Lewis Hamilton will look to make more history in 2021 and win his eighth world championship to break the record he currently holds with Michael Schumacher. Mercedes chief Toto Wolff is expecting a battle with Red Bull and Max Verstappen though.
Hamilton dominated the sport in 2020 to win his seventh title and was knighted in the New Year as a result.
The Mercedes man signed a new one-year contract last month and will look to repeat his success at the Silver Arrows again.
Wolff thinks Verstappen, along with new team-mate Sergio Perez, could pose a real threat to Hamilton and co though.
The new cars have now been launched with pre-season testing in Bahrain set for next weekend.
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“They [Red Bull] are certainly the first competitor. They have the same resources as us and have a very ambitious team,” said Wolff in an interview with Sky Sport.
“With Max Verstappen, they have a driver who wants to follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton and with Sergio Perez they have a driver who can also score regularly in the battle for the Constructors’ Championship.
“That’s why I see Red Bull as the main competitor.”
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Wolff was also hesitant to write off anyone else.
Ferrari, McLaren and Renault – now rebranded as Apline – were all a fair way off Mercedes last season.
“As I’ve said before, you can’t write off the rest,” Wolff explained.
“At Ferrari, it’s not clear how much ground they can make up for this year, but the other three or four teams in midfield will make our lives a lot more difficult this year.
“If it’s not about victory, it will be about the number of podium places. That’s why as a team you can’t afford to go wrong. Otherwise you will quickly be in sixth or seventh place.”
The 2021 F1 season starts with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 28.
Hamilton will look to get his campaign off to a fast start by beating team-mate Valtteri Bottas as well as Red Bull in what could be his final season in the sport.
Both Hamilton and Bottas are out of contract at the end of 2021 with Williams star George Russell tipped to take one of the seats for 2022.
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