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Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: World champion Lewis Hamilton has set his sights on greater heights as he renewed his contract with Mercedes for a record ninth year.

“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,” Hamilton said on the official website. “The goal is to continuously look to improve, both on and off the track.”

Mercedes announced late on Monday that the reigning Constructors’ Champions and Drivers’ Champion decided to continue together at least for the 2021 season.

A significant part of the new agreement builds upon the joint commitment to greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport that was made last year by Hamilton and Mercedes. This will take the form of a joint charitable foundation.

“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,” Hamilton said. “I’m proud to say we are taking that effort further this year by launching a foundation dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the sport. I am inspired by all that we can build together and can’t wait to get back on the track in March.”

Hamilton made his F1 debut with McLaren in 2007 and has been powered in all his 266 Grands Prix by Mercedes-Benz engines.

The 36-year-old British driver joined the Mercedes works team in 2013 and has since won 74 F1 races as well as six Drivers’ Championships. In 2020, he broke the legendary Michael Schumacher’s win record and is now all-time race win record holder in Formula One.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes CEO and Team Principal, was thrilled with Hamilton’s decision in staying put with the world champions.

“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. 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,” Wolff said.

“Lewis’s competitive record stands alongside the best the sports world has ever seen, and he is a valued ambassador for our brand and our partners. The story of Mercedes and Lewis has written itself into the history books of our sport over the past eight seasons, and we are hungry to compete and to add more chapters to it.”

Markus Schafer, the non-executive chairman at Mercedes, was equally thrilled with Hamilton staying put for another season. “We’re very happy to keep the most successful F1 driver of the current era in the most successful F1 team of the current era. Lewis is not only an incredibly talented driver; he also works very hard for his achievements and is extremely hungry,” Schafer said. “He shares his passion for performance with the entire team which is why this collaboration has become so successful. But Lewis is also a warm-hearted personality who cares deeply about the world around him and wants to make an impact. As a company, Mercedes-Benz shares this sense of responsibility and is proud to commit to a new, joint foundation to improve diversity in motorsport. Opening the sport to underrepresented groups will be important for its development in the future and we’re determined to make a positive impact.”