Lewis Hamilton: Seven-time world champion starts negotiations with Mercedes over new contract


Lewis Hamilton says he has started negotiations with Mercedes over a new contract to stay with the team beyond this season.

The seven-time champion signed only a one-year deal last winter but has indicated several times that he is keen to race on.

“Not a lot to say too much on, but we have had discussions and things are positive,” he said.

Hamilton also indicated he would be happy for Valtteri Bottas to stay.

The Finn is out of contract this season and team boss Toto Wolff has yet to decide whether to keep Bottas or replace him with Williams driver George Russell, who starred on a one-off appearance substituting for Hamilton at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

“Valtteri is my team-mate now,” Hamilton said, “and both of us have had ups and downs in our careers but he is a fantastic team-mate and I don’t necessarily see that it needs to change.

“We have worked well for many years. Valtteri has been my best team-mate overall and when I say team-mate it’s not just driver performance, it’s about team morale and how you work in the team-mate environment.”

Asked whether he would welcome the prospect of Russell at the team, Hamilton said: “He’s not my team-mate currently so no need to say anything on it.”

Wolff said at last weekend’s French Grand Prix that he wanted to spend more time observing Bottas and Russell this season before making a final decision which of them would be signed.

“Two drivers for one seat and two who can still have a great career in F1,” Wolff said. “I want to just see Valtteri’s full potential this year and continue to observe George driving for Williams and handling the situation.”

Prospects for this weekend’s race

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on track at the French Grand Prix
Hamilton and Verstappen had an intense battle for the lead at the French Grand Prix last weekend

Hamilton fell to 12 points behind title rival Max Verstappen in the championship after finishing second to the Red Bull driver in France and said he was expecting another close battle at this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix at Austria’s Red Bull Ring.

“We know how strong Red Bull are,” Hamilton said. “There are three long straights here, we saw how much time they were taking out of us in the straights in the last race – they were making up 0.35secs a lap – and it could be the same here. We will wait and see.

“But we come here with an optimistic approach, that what we have learned will hopefully help us take a small step forwards. Even if we have made a small step forwards, it is a small step in the right direction.”

Verstappen, who has won the Austrian race twice, said: “We had a lot of good races in the past here but it is not a guarantee it is going to happen again. We are of course very motivated to try to have a good race.”

Red Bull won in France despite the introduction of new stress tests on rear wings, a move that followed Hamilton accusing his rivals of using a “bendy” wing.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has suggested that Mercedes’ front wing could now come under scrutiny.

Verstappen said: “I guess Paul Ricard showed everything has been dealt with correctly but I do think that when you are checking the rear wing you should also be checking the front wing because it has a bigger effect on the car.

“It is up to the FIA now to do these checks because they have done the checks on the rear wing.”


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