Happy Hamilton in no rush to sign new Mercedes deal
Saturday, 11 April 2015 00:00
SHANGHAI (Reuters): Lewis Hamilton has agreed a deal in principle to remain at Mercedes beyond this season but the Formula One world champion is in no hurry to put pen to paper on a new contract, the Briton told reporters ahead of this week’s Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton moved to Mercedes in 2013 but is out of contract at the end of the season and negotiations to extend his stay with the German team have become protracted with the 30-year-old’s future plans the subject of much discussion around the paddock.
“The situation is not really different from the last time I saw you,” Hamilton said at a chilly Shanghai International Circuit on Thursday when asked about the progress of his contract talks.
“There’s still points to be agreed on, it’s just back and forth.”
Following the Malaysian Grand Prix on 29 March, Hamilton told British reporters that a new contract should be finalised within a week.
However, Hamilton, who is negotiating the deal himself, said he had been unable to find time to go through the finer points of a revised deal with the team where he won his second world title.
“The last week I haven’t really been doing too much contract reading,” Hamilton added.
“I don’t really feel particularly rushed. I think we’ve agreed that we want to stay together. I’ve got the rest of the year if I want to take that but obviously we’ll get it done at some stage.”
The Briton, who won his first title with McLaren in 2008, is one of the three highest-paid drivers in the series with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso estimated to be on similar salaries to Hamilton.
Some reports have pegged Hamilton’s new deal at more than $40 million and when asked whether he would like to be the highest-paid Mercedes employee, earning even more than Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche, he said: “I don’t really know what to say to that. Drivers generally do earn more than that.”
Hamilton heads into this weekend’s race at the top of the standings. He won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix but was beaten by Vettel in Malaysia, with the German scoring a shock victory to snap Mercedes’ eight-race winning streak.
Searing track temperatures severely hampered his Mercedes in Malaysia and Hamilton said he was confident of enjoying a better weekend in the cooler conditions in China.
“They were very, very quick, they did a great job,” Hamilton said of Ferrari’s form in Malaysia.
“We could have done a better job in terms of looking after our tyres, we could have maybe (gone) even a little bit faster.
“We’re not stressed or anything. We didn’t have the most amazing weekend and I think we’ll be stronger this time.”
Alonso expects to end driving career at McLaren
Reuters: Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso expects to end his Formula One career at McLaren, the 33-year-old Spaniard said, confirming that the team he joined from Ferrari at the end of last season was likely to be his last.
Alonso made his debut as a 19-year-old with Minardi in 2001 and has since claimed 32 victories in 236 races with this season representing his 14th in the sport, excluding the year he spent on the sidelines as a test driver for Renault.
“I think after 15 or 16 or 17 years in Formula One, whatever it will be, it’s enough,” Alonso told reporters at the Shanghai International Circuit on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.
“I will close the loop, I will close part of my life,” he said, addressing a question about whether he would remain in the sport in some capacity once a driving career that brought him back-to-back world titles from 2005 ended.
“I started with a McLaren when I was three years old,” he joked of a replica car bought for him by his father.
“I will finish with a McLaren but the real one in Formula One and that will be one-third of my life with a great experience, with great memories, with great friendships.”
Widely regarded as the best driver of his generation, Alonso has often found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He joined McLaren at the start of this year from Ferrari, returning to a team he had left following a single acrimonious season in 2007.
He then spent five frustrating seasons with the sport’s most glamorous team from 2010, during which time he came close but failed to add to his world title tally.
The timing of his move to McLaren could also be questioned as the team are at the start of a new engine partnership with Japanese manufacturer Honda, who have struggled to come to terms with the sport’s turbo-hybrid rules.
The combination that once dominated Formula One is now a regular fixture near the back of the field while Ferrari have returned to winning ways with Alonso’s replacement Sebastian Vettel claiming victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix last month.
However, Alonso said that while he had enjoyed his time at Ferrari, he did not regret his move and felt inspired by the challenge of helping the eight-time constructors’ champions return to the front of the pack.
“Five fantastic years, we’ve been very close two times to winning the championship and I only have good memories and good feelings,” Alonso said of his time at Ferrari.
“But it was enough. To keep doing lap after lap, year after year, that was not anymore my motivation.
“It’s challenging but I’m looking forward, starting in a new team, with a new project... This makes me happy and makes me full. I was not happy with my mind and my soul anymore.”