With the Formula One season unfolding as a procession, one narrative looks like going to the wire — the issue of where Lewis Hamilton will be driving next season.
On the track, Red Bull have won all eight races so far this season, with Max Verstappen taking six of those, leaving him as the 1-100 favourite for the drivers’ championship.
If you bet £1 on him taking the title, and he wins, then you would make a 1p profit.
Much less certain is Hamilton’s future, with the possibility that the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in a fortnight could be his last British GP as a Mercedes driver.
The 38-year-old seven-time champion’s Mercedes contract expires at the end of the year, and sources say he and his team have widely contrasting views about what happens next.
Lewis Hamilton could be entering his last British Grand Prix as a Mercedes driver
His contract expires at the end of the year and sources believe his team have contrasting views
Negotiations have been drawn out despite Toto Wolff’s (pictured) suggestion that they were a formality
Negotiations have continued for seven months, despite team boss Toto Wolff suggesting in January that an extension would be a formality, and then a few weeks ago that it could be done in days.
Hamilton’s current deal is worth £27.5m a year, plus a £15m bonus for winning the title — the second-highest salary behind Verstappen’s £43m-a-year basic guaranteed sum. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has the third highest contract, worth £19m a year.
Sources have revealed Hamilton would like a new long-term contract to include the bonus as guaranteed income.
Mercedes are understood to be willing to offer the former champion a one-year contract with the option for a second.
Another stumbling block is Hamilton’s desire for a 10-year Mercedes brand ambassador role worth £20m a year. Team officials are not prepared to agree to Hamilton’s ambassador demands.
Neither party wants the relationship to end, but Hamilton is under pressure to lower his demands to get a deal signed.
Both Mercedes and Hamilton declined to comment.
Hamilton’s desire for a 10-year Mercedes brand ambassador role is a stumbling block
O’NEIL’S £1M PAY-OUT
The shock departure of Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil just weeks after saving the club from relegation will cost the Cherries around £1million in compensation.
His departure comes less than seven months after his appointment as permanent head coach.
O’Neil was appointed in November on an 18-month contract. He triggered a further one-year option as reward for saving Bournemouth from the drop. That option insured a larger pay-off.
In addition, he earned about £750,000 in salary during his brief spell in charge.
Bournemouth will pay former boss Gary O’Neil £1million in compensation after sacking him
WILL IT BE CHELSEA AT ALLIANZ BRIDGE?
Allianz are interested in a long-term sponsorship deal to bring Chelsea’s new ground, wherever it materialises, into their ‘family of stadiums’.
The German insurance company were in talks to take over as Chelsea’s shirt sponsors from next season, now the club’s deal with Three has expired.
But it seems online casino Stake will fill that slot, to the fury of fans: 77 per cent of supporters in a recent poll oppose that move, due to general discomfort at having a gambling sponsor.
As this newspaper revealed in January, Stake’s British website is powered by Isle of Man firm TGP, who have been controlled in the past by a Chinese billionaire, Alvin Chau, who has links to criminal Triad gangs.
He was jailed earlier this year for 18 years after being found guilty of more than 100 charges relating to organised crime and illegal gambling, and TGP’s command structure remains opaque.
Allianz are interested in a sponsorship deal to bring Chelsea’s new ground into their family
While Allianz were looking at a shirt or sleeve deal, Chelsea were also sounded out about a potential stadium naming deal once the future of their home is confirmed.
Allianz are seriously considering a ‘major’ and ‘long-term’ partnership with Chelsea, sources say.
Allianz spokespeople declined to comment on the talks, but the company have signed naming rights deals with seven stadiums, in Munich, Sydney, Minnesota, Nice, Vienna, Turin and Sao Paulo.
Notable gaps in the ‘family’ include England and Spain. The ‘Allianz Bridge’ would fill one!
Allianz already have naming right deals with seven stadiums including Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena (pictured)
WHO ARE 13 MYSTERY INVESTORS IN EVERTON?
Bill Kenwright will remain as Everton’s chairman for now but the long-term ownership and direction of the club remains unclear, with an American company on the verge of buying a 25 per cent stake.
MSP Sports Capital are headquartered in New York, and chaired by Jahm Najafi, a seasoned sports executive with board-level positions at McLaren Racing and the NBA among other places. Another key figure is Jeff Moorad, an agent for leading NFL and MLB stars for decades.
MSP’s website says: ‘We invest in sports teams, leagues and businesses in the sports ecosystem that are pursuing ambitious, challenging tasks.’
Last week, the company raised £130m from 13 unidentified investors to take what is understood will be a 25 per cent share of Everton, according to paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the USA.
Bill Kenwright will remain as Everton’s chairman for now but his future remains unclear
It is believed MSP will take two seats on Everton’s board. Club legend Graeme Sharp, CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale and finance officer Grant Ingles all left the club two weeks ago.
Everton’s major shareholder Farhad Moshiri announced on Friday that Kenwright will be staying, Moshiri now wants ‘a period of consistency in the boardroom’, sources say, ‘and will become more hands-on himself’.
The £130m MSP investment will value Everton at £520m and help fund the new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.
MSP’s longer term plans are unknown. They also own stakes in top-flight clubs in Germany (Augsburg) and Portugal (Estoril), and lower-division clubs in Belgium, Holland and Spain.