Hamilton hopes to sign new F1 contract in coming weeks

MONACO — Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton says talks over a new contract with Mercedes are advancing and he is hopeful it will be sorted out “in the coming weeks.”
The F1 great is out of contract at the end of the year. Hamilton has been linked by some media reports with a potential move to Ferrari should be decide not to re-sign with Mercedes.
But the 38-year-old British driver said on Thursday at the Monaco Grand Prix that there has been no approach from Ferrari, and his personal team is working things out with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
“Naturally, in contract negotiations there’s always going to be speculation,” Hamilton said. “My team’s working closely behind the scenes with Toto. We’re almost at the end of having a contract ready.”
Hamilton, the F1 record-holder with 103 grand prix wins and 103 pole positions, was pressed further as to when the contract might be signed.
“That’s what we’re working towards, so hopefully in the coming weeks,” he said. “I’ve got a great team in the background doing all the work.
Hamilton was relieved he no longer does his own negotiating.
“Having the team focus on that so I can just do my job, that’s a much better position that I was in before,” he said. “Because I remember I used to do my negotiations on my own, and it was very stressful.”
Hamilton did not win a race last year for the first time in his career, dating to 2007. He has not won yet this season, either. But he still believes Mercedes can turn things around and insists the barren run isn’t weighing on his decision whether to stay.
“It doesn’t have a bearing, I think, because we’re still a championship-winning team,” he said. “It’s just, we’ve had the wrong car. There have been some decisions that have been made over the past two years that have not been ideal, and we’re working our way through that.”
Meanwhile, Ferrari team principal Frédéric Vasseur dismissed rumors of having approached Hamilton regarding a potential move to his team next year.
“You know perfectly that, at this stage of the season, you will have each week a different story. And we are not sending an offer to Lewis Hamilton. We didn’t do it,” the Frenchman said. “We didn’t have discussions.”
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, whose is teammates with Carlos Sainz Jr. was put on the spot during Thursday’s news conference when asked if he’d like Hamilton as a teammate.
“If I say, ‘Yes,’ I imagine it will be the title of every newspaper,” Leclerc said.
“Lewis is such an incredible driver, has achieved so much in the sport, so I think anybody on the grid would love to have Lewis as a teammate, as everybody would learn a lot from him. (But) I’m happy where I am and (with) Carlos it’s a great relationship.”
Leclerc, who is tied to Ferrari until the end of next year, has not started talks on a new deal yet.
“No talks on renewal now,” he said. “Still a lot of time.” (AP)