Lewis Hamilton expects to agree a new Mercedes contract “once we get the job done” in terms of winning this year’s world titles, to stay in Formula 1 into 2021.
F1’s new race wins record holder and runaway 2020 championship leader is out of contact in little over two months’ time at Mercedes.
Both sides have long spoken of their expectation of agreeing a new deal, but cited the condensed nature of this season and the impact of the pandemic on the wait to hold formal talks.
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In an interview with Sky Sports F1 after winning Sunday’s Portuguese GP, Hamilton revealed a contract renewal was first floated to him in August 2019.
“Naturally I think already last year, in Hungary last year I think Toto [Wolff] was talking about signing a contract,” said Hamilton.
“Of course the pandemic wasn’t then and you look back and you’re like maybe I should have signed it then. But the thing is I just think things happen at the right time and I definitely wasn’t ready mentally at the time.
“I wanted to give myself the space mentally to really think about what I want to do, think if there’s any adjustments for me and for the team, how can we get more out of each other – how can I give them an easier time.”
Hamilton, who has enjoyed unprecedented success since joining Mercedes in 2013, believes he and the team are “still growing together”.
He added: “I definitely don’t think it’s over. I want to continue. I think once we get the job done and the stress of the bubble and everything passes on, we can get to whatever comfortable or uncomfortable position we need to be in and we’ll get it done so we can continue.”
Hamilton is currently 77 points clear in the standings with five races remaining in 2020, meaning the earliest he can wrap up a record-equalling seventh championship is the Turkish GP on November 15.
Mercedes, however, can seal their seventh straight constructors’ title this weekend at Imola.
Speaking to Sky Sports News’ Mike Wedderburn in Portugal, Hamilton, who has signed a series of three-year deals with Mercedes since joining in 2013, admitted he was not sure how long he wanted to commit to.
“I still want to continue to race but I don’t know how much longer it will be,” Hamilton, 36 in January, said. “It’s definitely not going to be a long time before I stop, so this is a period of time where I’ve got to slowly work out what the future holds.
“It’s bright, whatever I decide to do, but it also has to be aligned with the times, it has to be aligned with my values and it has to be aligned with what the team is planning to do.
“All I can say is that I plan to be here next year.”
‘We are leaders together’
The 35-year-old also explained how he had grown as a driver and a leader over his years at the Brackley team.
“When I was younger, obviously I wasn’t always listened to,” said Hamilton.
“When I joined this team, I had all these ideas. I looked at the car they had with Michael [Schumacher] and with Nico [Rosberg], and I was like this has got to change, and this has got to change. I changed a bunch of things and they listened to me, and it continued that way together.
“When you’re 22, you’re young and enthusiastic but you haven’t necessarily got the maturity. At the time I was young, I didn’t know what I could say yes and no to and I didn’t know how to be a team leader. What 22-year-old does?
“Now I’m part of this incredible team, we are leaders together.
“We challenge each other and I know when I listen to the strategists in the morning, I know which parts I need to digest, which questions I need to ask, and when I’m on the track I know how far I can go and how far I’m going to go. That comes with experience.”
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