SILVERSTONE, Great Britain -- Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton says he does not feel comfortable negotiating a new contract with Mercedes while people are losing their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hamilton's contract expires at the end of this season and he is expected to sign a new multiyear deal before the end of 2020. Mercedes announced teammate Valtteri Bottas on a new deal until the end of 2021 on Thursday, but Hamilton said he is not ready to push ahead with his own negotiations.
"Honestly it doesn't feel like the right time ... when you think about so many people in the world who have lost their jobs, people are unemployed ... to then sit and negotiate a big contract, it just doesn't seem like the most important thing that I need to apply time to right this second," he said ahead of this weekend's Formula One 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
"The fact is that I do want to continue with this team and it's not a big effort for us to sit down and get it done. It's just right now I don't feel comfortable with it and I want to wait a little bit longer."
Mercedes' parent company, Daimler, said last year that it would make 10,000 staff redundant by 2022 to cut costs, but that number is expected to rise as a result of the pandemic. Hamilton said he was in no rush to sign a new deal with the world championship-winning team and was currently focusing his energy on a push to improve diversity in Formula One and at Mercedes.
"I'm not talking to anybody else [other than Mercedes]," he added. "I'm looking forward to continuing a new chapter with the team in terms of how we educate ourselves and what we are going to do to help be more diverse and inclusive moving forward.
"So I'm super excited for what is possible to do with Mercedes-Benz and this team moving forward. At some stage it will get done, I'm not stressed."
Hamilton has taken the lead in Formula One's anti-racism campaign and has spoken regularly about the importance of increasing diversity in the sport. As he targets a record-equaling seventh world championship by the end of this year, he said 2020 had already taken on greater significance because of the events happening in the wider world.
"I think it's the most important year of my life to date with everything that's going on," he said. "I do think that it is a special year and I don't take that lightly.
"People ask where we get our motivation from and I think there are so many things to take inspiration from and to inspire us. To be fighting for a championship at a time like this is exciting and empowering with the thought that there might be change to follow."
He added: "F1 is a pretty cool sport to be a part of and particularly now during this period when we have this awakening as a sport, and we need to do more to push for diversity and inclusivity. I think I'm probably most proud about that section, probably more than I am the rest of it."