Lewis Hamilton intends to sign new Mercedes deal
Hamilton suggests new Mercedes deal beyond 2018 will be formality
By Pete Gill at Monza
Last Updated: 01/09/17 9:50am
Lewis Hamilton says he intends to sign a new Mercedes deal in the wake of Sebastian Vettel's contract extension at Ferrari.
Hamilton told Sky Italy last week that he had given up on the 'dream' of joining Ferrari before 2021 - when Vettel's new deal expires.
Hamilton's existing contract with Mercedes runs until the end of next season and while Silver Arrows chief Toto Wolff says talks won't take place while his star driver is battling for this year's world championship, Hamilton has suggested he regards a new deal as a formality.
"I don't know if anyone expected him to sign a three-year deal," Hamilton said ahead of this week's Italian GP when pressed about Vettel's new deal. "It doesn't really change anything for me. l plan to extend with the team, which we will do as some point in the second half of the season or towards the end of the year.
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"I know Toto has said we should wait until the season because that's generally what we like to do.
"There's no rush and l still have another year. The last contract went all the way into midway through the year [it was due to expire]. I know the team are committed to me and l've never picked up the phone and spoken to other teams.
"I'm not trying to weigh up my options and if l was l would phone up Toto and say 'look, I am just doing due diligence and seeing what options are available.' But currently l have no plans to do that."
Given Mercedes have won three successive world championship doubles since 2014, Hamilton's intention to re-sign for Mercedes is no surprise and the logical decision.
But assuming his next Mercedes deal will mirror the three-year duration of his two previous contracts with the team, he would be 36 - the same age Fernando Alonso is now - when he next becomes available.
If so, might he finish his career at Ferrari if Vettel leaves at the end of 2020? The potential is certainly there.
"In the plans that l have for my five, six years left in the sport, that piece of the puzzle is in place," Hamilton said of Vettel's extension. "And that makes my decision moving forward even easier."
Who's been asking after Lewis' seat?
Although Wolff insisted the discussion hadn't been 'contractual' in nature, Mercedes executive chairman Niki Lauda told Sky F1 at Spa the team had spoken to Vettel earlier in the summer.
"I'm made aware in the background who contacts the team and that's down to a great relationship with Toto - he's very open about who calls," said Hamilton.
"It's interesting sometimes to hear who has called and who is trying to take my seat or the seat next door to me - and then to see, following those calls, the manoeuvres which happen, such as, for example, Sebastian signing."
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