Lewis Hamilton‘s long-running contract saga could be concluded before next week’s British Grand Prix.
Hamilton, 33, is in the final year of his Mercedes deal, but after months of negotiations the Brit’s extension – which will rubber-stamp his future with Mercedes for at least another two seasons – is on the brink of being announced.
In what could be his last contract in Formula One, Hamilton is poised to earn £40million-a-year to cement his status as this country’s biggest sporting earner.
It is understood Mercedes do not have a formal timeline in place to announce Hamilton’s new deal.
However, team boss Toto Wolff hinted after the French Grand Prix – a race which was attended by Mercedes chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche – that a conclusion may finally on the horizon.
“We don’t want to drag it out much longer,” Wolff said. “I expect it to be done very, very soon.” The Austrian cryptically added: “Maybe it is about choosing the right moment.”
Magnifique!! 🇫🇷 It’s an amazing feeling winning here. I feel very grateful for a solid weekend. Huge thanks to every single person at the Team for always pushing the boundaries and never giving up. I want to thank each and every one of them 🙏🏾⚡️ #FrenchGP @MercedesAMGF1 pic.twitter.com/8rIFH9BKTq
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) June 24, 2018
Mercedes wanted Hamilton’s future to be resolved before March’s opening race in Australia, but they will head towards the midway stage of the season with two vacant seats for 2019.
Hamilton, however, is seemingly certain to stay, and it is likely he will be partnered by Valtteri Bottas for a third year with Mercedes content that the inoffensive Finn is doing enough to retain his seat.
Bottas is fourth in the standings, 53 points adrift of Hamilton.
Daniel Ricciardo, a two-time winner this season, is out of contract with Red Bull, but Mercedes do not appear interested in making a move for the Australian.
Hamilton meanwhile, is back in charge of the championship after his impressive victory on Sunday.
The Englishman led all but one lap at the Paul Ricard Circuit to move 14 points clear of Sebastian Vettel, who finished only fifth after his collision with Bottas.
The championship pendulum has swung back and forth between Mercedes and Ferrari, but it is Hamilton who now holds the momentum with four races to come in five weeks.
“It can swing so quickly,” Wolff continued. “A DNF (for Hamilton) and the other guy (Vettel) winning means it swings back in the other direction so I don’t expect this result will change much. That is going to be the story of the season.”
A Mercedes driver has won in Spielberg for each of the past four years, and Hamilton added: “Austria should be a fairly decent track as it’s been good for us in the past. I don’t see why it should be any different now.
“The car should be good there. I think the Red Bulls have been quick there in the past because it’s quite a good downforce circuit, so it’ll be interesting.”
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