Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has declared that talks to extend Lewis Hamilton’s contract will soon be underway, after the seven-time world champion announced his intention to stay in Formula One for at least another year. The 36-year-old recently penned a one-year deal to keep him with the Silver Arrows until the end of the current season.
Hamilton has made a strong start to his Drivers’ Championship title defence with two Grand Prix wins from the opening three rounds.
He held Max Verstappen at arm’s length to draw first blood in Bahrain, before sealing a comfortable victory at Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix with Mercedes firmly on top throughout the weekend.
The Stevenage-born racer’s future on the grid is currently uncertain as a result of his contract length, and it has been speculated that Williams star and Mercedes junior driver George Russell could be in line to fill the decorated champion’s seat next season.
However, it seems as though Hamilton and the Silver Arrows are keen to extend their successful working relationship.
Wolff has revealed that the 97-time Grands Prix winner will be approached over a new deal, claiming that negotiations will not go down to the wire on this occasion as they did last year.
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“We have talked about it before and it’s good to see [he’s said] it out in public,” Wolff told the F1 website.
“Like I’ve always said, there’s no reason why the marriage shouldn’t continue. We learned our lesson [with the last contract] that we wouldn’t leave it until the Christmas holidays.
“That was definitely taking it too far. I think we are in a very good place and our relationship is growing stronger every year.
“It’s about time to give it a little nudge and start to speak, and this is what we are going to do soon.”
Hamilton is aiming to cement his status as F1’s greatest driver with an eighth Drivers’ Championship title this season.
He has already surpassed fellow seven-time winner Michael Schumacher’s tally of race wins, podiums and pole positions.
The former McLaren man admitted at the Portuguese Grand Prix that he is hopeful of keeping his place on the grid next year, explaining that his participation in a recent test day underlines his commitment to F1’s future.
“Well firstly, I don’t ever volunteer for test days and it’s probably one of the first ones I have volunteered for, so I immediately regretted it when I woke up in the morning on the day,” Hamilton joked at a press conference.
“I was like: ‘Damn it!’. But no honestly, firstly it was at a really great track to test at, so I enjoyed the day and the weather was good.
“And I plan to be here next year and I want to help Pirelli and help lead towards them having a better product.
“It’s something that the drivers all have wished for I think, better performance, and so it was important for me to gauge where the starting point is and what differences I can help with.”