F1: Lewis Hamilton extends Mercedes contract
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McLaren starlet Lando Norris has refused to rule out the possibility of a sensational move to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. Hamilton, 36, finally agreed a one-year contract extension last week.
But, despite confirming his place on the F1 grid this season, there are fears that the seven-time world champion could quit the sport at the end of the year.
The uncertainty has left Mercedes considering life after their star driver and fellow Brit Norris has long been regarded as the natural heir to Hamilton’s throne.
Norris, 21, is about to embark on his third season in F1 and remains committed to McLaren, who also handed Hamilton his F1 debut back in 2007, but knows how quickly the sport can change.
“It’s not something I’ve put a lot of thought into. It doesn’t affect me, not in this period of time anyway,” said Norris.
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“I’m very happy with where I am at McLaren. I still have to do a very good job and earn my space here. I need to perform well, I need to make sure I’m back here next season.
“I still want to be in Formula One. (But) at the end of the day, I want to be able to win races and podiums – and that’s what I’m here to do.
“If there is an opportunity that takes place, or if things suddenly move around, then you never know.
“I’m not thinking about it now. That’s something that will happen at the end of the year.
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“For now I concentrate on the job I’m doing and maximise that to just make sure I have an opportunity to be here again next year. That’s my job for the season.”
As well as Hamilton, who begins his pursuit for an unprecedented eighth crown in Bahrain next month, Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas is also out of contract at the end of the season.
And Norris, speaking at the launch of McLaren’s 2021 car launch on Monday, admits nothing would surprise him after seeing former partner Carlos Sainz quit the Woking team for Ferrari this season.
Asked about his thoughts in Hamilton’s one-year deal, he said: “For a one year, I don’t know what goes on in his mind.
“He’s a creative guy. He probably knows a lot of what he wants to do in life.
“Whether he will stop at seven, eight or nine? I’m not so sure. We’ll have to wait and find out, it’s difficult to say.
“You never know, when something arises and seats can change. With Carlos going to Ferrari, no-one saw it coming and then all of a sudden it was there.
“It can happen within any team at any point in the year.
“Both their contracts are out at the end of the season now, for both Bottas and Lewis, so you never know.
“For now my focus is with McLaren helping them helping me and doing the best job we can as a team.”
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