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Thursday 6 February at 08:35
Hamilton contract talks to start soon - Wolff
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Thursday 6 February at 08:35 : Feb.6 (GMM) Contract negotiations with Lewis Hamilton will only begin this month, according to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

Earlier, it was rumoured that the six time world champion had rejected Mercedes' offer of a new two-season deal - for 2021 and 2022 - at $50m per year.

Hamilton, who has been linked with a move to Ferrari amid rumours Mercedes could even withdraw its works team, reportedly made a $60m per year counter-offer.

Wolff, however, insists that the talks are actually yet to begin.

"The last time we met was at the Christmas party," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"We chatted a bit about the future but since then we have only talked on Whatsapp. When you are so busy for ten months, it is important to take a break.

"That's why we decided to leave ourselves alone in December and January. When it all starts again in February, we will sit down and discuss it," Wolff added.

It has been suggested that, with Max Verstappen signed up at Red Bull and Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, 35-year-old Hamilton's only real option is to stay at Mercedes.

"A driver at his level always has options," Wolff said.

"The same goes for us. As long as we build a fast car, we will always be in a situation where we can choose our drivers."

He denied that the personal bond that has grown between himself and Hamilton will help the negotiations along.

"In this particular case, for example when it comes to the financial side, we have different interests," Wolff said.

"But no matter how difficult it was in the past, in the end there was always a handshake. Lewis wants to drive the fastest car and we want the best driver."
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