Hamilton fully committed to Mercedes as he nears new contract

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Lewis Hamilton has underlined his commitment to Mercedes in Formula 1 as he closes in on a new contract with the German team.

The world championship leader has enjoyed the most successful season of his career to date, winning eight races to give him a 10-point advantage over teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ standings.

However, with evident cracks appearing in the intra-team relationship between the two drivers, there have been suggestions that Hamilton could be forced out of the team, with Rosberg signing a new long-term deal earlier this year.

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is rumored to be monitoring the situation at Mercedes on the chance that he could slot in as Hamilton’s replacement for the 2016 season – when the Briton’s deal expires – but Lewis has said that reports linking him with a move away are wide of the mark.

“I think it’s an interesting time in Formula 1, drivers making changes,” Hamilton said in Sochi on Thursday. “There’s a lot of fiction, a lot of silly stories going around; whoever is starting those silly stories… I’ve always been very clear that I’m here to do a job, I’m contracted to the end of next year.

“We’ve confirmed that we’re going to sit down and talk about the future at the end of the year.”

Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda has already rejected the notion of Alonso joining the team, and Hamilton himself is paying little attention to the paddock speculation.

“There are only two things really on my mind,” he said. “I’m fully focused on the championship. It’s been a real surprise really, I’m very happy about it – just thinking about the racing. I’m not actually sitting here thinking ‘okay, I’ve had three wins’, I’ve not actually thought about that but I think if I do reflect on it it’s been incredible.

“I remember some years, you get one win and then don’t get another for ages. It’s very surreal this year, a period of time where you get two wins in a row, or three, or four. It’s like no other year I’ve ever experience in my racing career – it’s been great.

“And then the rest of my mind is thinking about Jules [Bianchi] and his family.”

Hamilton is bidding for his fourth straight win in Russia this weekend, which could take him 17 points clear of Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ championship.