The supposed uncertainty surrounding Lewis Hamilton’s future at Mercedes looks set to end in the coming weeks after the Briton revealed to The Guardian newspaper that he is in the “final stages” of contract negotiations with the German team.
Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013 on a three-year deal, but opted to postpone negotiations over a new contract until the end of the 2014 season so he could focus on the battle for the drivers’ championship with teammate Nico Rosberg.
The British driver won the fight, claiming 11 wins from 19 races to secure his second world title, and the first for Mercedes since Juan Manuel Fangio’s success in 1954.
Over the winter, he opted to break ties with management company XIX Entertainment, whose clients in the past have included David Beckham and Carrie Underwood. Hamilton decided to negotiate his own contract, and confirmed to The Guardian that he was close to agreeing terms with Mercedes.
“Hopefully we’re in the final stages,” Hamilton said. “I don’t really know what the timeline is but we’re very much in the last stages of it. I’m committed to this team for the foreseeable future.”
The two-time world champion admitted that he has found negotiating his own contract difficult, but felt that it was a necessary experience.
“I’m not too sure I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s a very, very nerve-racking experience, but I’m glad I’ve done it. If I’d not done something like this I would have always wondered if I could or could not.”
Hamilton’s future with Mercedes has been something of a storm in a teacup over the winter, given that neither the driver nor the team would have any reason to cut ties for 2016.
Reports in February suggested that the sticking point was a demand from Hamilton to be paid $78m per year, but both the driver and the team dismissed this as pure speculation.
Should Hamilton opt to leave Mercedes though, team boss Toto Wolff has already named McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas as possible successors to the Briton, with Nico Rosberg agreeing a new long-term deal with the team last summer.