200-MILLION? WHAT A JOKE! Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg thinks it's funny that his team mate Lewis Hamilton should be paid the equivalent of R2.4-billion for his new contract. Image: AFP / Greg Baker
SHANGHAI, China - Lewis Hamilton's monetary value has a limit, according to Nico Rosberg.
While the German has struggled so far in 2015, reigning F1 champion Hamilton is leading the 2015 standings and on top form. Off-track, however, Hamilton's season has been less smooth as he handles his own negotiations for a new Mercedes contract beyond 2015.
As the saga has continually dragged, the feeling in the paddock is that the Briton may have set his price too high even though Mercedes does want to retain him.
"I think he deserves a lot of money," Rosberg told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, before laughing: "But I wouldn't give him 200-million (the equivalent of R2.4-billion)!"
Indeed, some reports have suggested Hamilton might be demanding up to the equivalent of R1.8-billion - as much as R600-million per year for a three-season deal.
The 30-year-old was visibly uncomfortable in Shanghai when a journalist asked him if he should be the highest-paid Mercedes employee, above even chairman Dieter Zetsche.
Hamilton shrugged: "I don't really know what to say to that."
Even boss Toto Wolff is now putting public pressure on Hamilton to end the saga, telling British reporters it's causing "instability" within the team. "It's not ideal," he said. "The insecurity is not good for the team."
Hinting that the sticking point might be money, Wolff added: "You need to honour what a driver is worth." But he also suggested the last hurdles are just "tiny details" of Hamilton's new contract.
"It must come to a point - and this is what I will do - where you sit down and say 'Right, this is the final five points'. It's details, tiny details. Everyone has a value and you have to respect that. It's always the best compromise and give and take."
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