Hamilton hopes to sign new Mercedes deal before start of season

Lewis Hamilton is hopeful of putting pen-to-paper on a lucrative new deal with Mercedes before he opens the defence of his Formula One championship in Australia next month.

Hamilton made his first public appearance of the new year at a cold and overcast Silverstone on Thursday as he helped to unveil the Mercedes he hopes will fire him to a remarkable fifth championship.

The 33-year-old is entering the final term of his three-year contract with the sport's all-conquering team, but expects the new contract, which could earn him £40million-a-year until the end of 2020, to be agreed within the next month.

"We've been talking for a while but I don't like to do it over the phone and I wasn't back here until February," Hamilton said. "I have spoken with (Mercedes executive director) Toto Wolff, and we spoke about how we are committed to each other.

"I know there's no one else better and Toto knows there's no one else better than me, so he is not looking anywhere else.

"It is just the details, so hopefully it's done before the start of the season, before the first race, but there's no rush, and no panic.

"I am not feeling pressure from other drivers and Toto has no reason to believe I am speaking to anyone else. In the six years I have been here, I have not spoken to another team and that shows how committed I am."

Hamilton has kept a low profile over the winter break following criticism he courted after comments made about his nephew in a social media post at Christmas.

He subsequently removed all of his content on both Instagram and Twitter.

But the British driver appeared in a buoyant mood here ahead of a campaign which could see him join Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers in the sport's history to have won the championship on more than four occasions.

And while Hamilton has slowly returned to social media in recent weeks, he has admitted he will filter his posts.

"We had already planned at the end of the year to start a clean slate, and it just so happened that it was an opportunistic time to change it," Hamilton said as he reflected on his social media purge.

"Moving forward, there is a balance you have to strike. I have been very open with my life for several years and it is always difficult to make a change because I have enjoyed being open.

"But we are living in strange times where things are magnified a lot more than they were in previous years. It is a critical time for the world.

"I will continue to show the world what I am doing, but it is about being more strategic in what I do show and don't show. Social media is still the gateway to connect to fans, so it will be a part of my life. As to how deep I will go, we will see."

Hamilton will get his first proper taste of this year's Mercedes at next week's opening winter test in Barcelona before the curtain raiser in Melbourne on March 25.

- PA

KEYWORDS: Sport, F1, Lewis Hamilton

 

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