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Formula One: Lewis Hamilton to stay with Mercedes after signing new contract

The seven-time Formula One world champion and Mercedes will race together for a ninth season in 2021

This file photo from November 2020 shows Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton after winning the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix at the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit in Istanbul. (AFP)

British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, 36, has finally ended his long-running contract saga with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team by signing a new one-year deal, the Brackley-based outfit announced on Monday.

Hamilton will now be competing to win an unprecedented eighth world title when the 2021 season gets under way in Bahrain next month.

"The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team is pleased to announce that the reigning Formula One world constructors' champion and the reigning F1 world drivers' champion will continue together in 2021," an official statement said.

Hamilton had been out of contract since his last deal expired on the final day of December. But after several weeks of negotiations with Mercedes, his future has finally been settled, albeit with both parties agreeing to only one extra year, according to an AFP report.

"We have always been aligned with Lewis that we would continue, but the very unusual year we had in 2020 meant it took some time to finish the process," Mercedes' team principal and CEO Toto Wolff said in the statement. "Together, we have decided to extend the sporting relationship for another season and to begin a longer-term project to take the next step in our shared commitment to greater diversity within our sport," he added.

A big part of this new agreement between Hamilton and Mercedes builds upon the joint commitment to greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport that was made last year by the driver and Mercedes. This will take the form of a joint charitable foundation, which will have the mission of supporting greater diversity and inclusion in all its forms in motorsport.

"I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates. Our team has achieved incredible things together and we look forward to building on our success even further, while continuously looking to improve, both on and off the track," Hamilton said in an official statement.

Hamilton continues to be one of the most vocal supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. In a pandemic-affected 2020 season, Hamilton not only excelled on the race track, but went beyond to bring about change. His new agreement is perhaps just a sign of things to come.

"I'm equally determined to continue the journey we started to make motorsport more diverse for future generations and I am grateful that Mercedes has been extremely supportive of my call to address this issue," he added in the statement.

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