Lewis Hamilton has committed his Formula One future to Mercedes after revealing he will put pen to paper on a new contract before the end of the season.
Hamilton, who trails Sebastian Vettel by seven points in the title race ahead of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, has one more term to run on his current deal.
Suspicion arose that Hamilton, 32, could switch to Ferrari if Vettel declined their offer of a new contract, but confirmation of his three-year extension, formally announced last weekend, has restricted the British driver’s short-term options.
Lewis Hamilton has said he will sign a new contract to extend his partnership with Mercedes
The deal will be signed ‘in the second half of the season, or towards the end of the year’
Vettel would be against Hamilton joining him at Ferrari, and threatening his number one status at the team.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff stated in Belgium that discussions over Hamilton’s contract extension would not take place until the winter break. However Hamilton, who joined Mercedes in 2013, contradicted the Austrian here by claiming a new deal could even be struck before the end of the year.
‘I don’t know if everybody expected Sebastian to sign a three-year deal, but it doesn’t really change much for me,’ Hamilton said in Monza on Thursday.
‘I plan to extend with this team which we will do at some point in the second half of the season, or towards the end of the year.
‘I know Toto said that we will wait until the end of the season because that is what I like to do. There is no rush, and I still have another year, so we still have a lot of time.
‘I know the team are fully committed to me and I have never picked up the phone and spoken to any of the other teams.
‘I have made that very clear to the guys, and I am not trying to weigh up my options. If I was, I would call Toto and tell him I will do my due diligence and see what options there are for me, but I have no plans to do that.’
Hamilton, seen taking selfies with fans in Monza this week, is second in the driver’s standings
Hamilton has spoken of his desire to race for Ferrari, but a move to the Italian team will now have to be put on hold.
The Englishman, however, refused to rule out one final contract at the famous Maranello constructor – and hinted that he could be in a position to replace Vettel when his latest deal expires in 2020.
‘It is good for Sebastian that he has signed there,’ Hamilton added.
‘All things happen for a reason, and in the plan that I have coming up – with the five or six years that I have left in the sport – it is good that that piece in the puzzle is now in place, so it makes my decision moving forwards a lot easier.’
He is seven points behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, but 34 ahead of Valtteri Bottas in third
Niki Lauda, Mercedes’ non-executive chairman, revealed at last week’s Belgian Grand Prix – a race which Hamilton won to get his championship charge back on track – that the team had been in discussions with Vettel.
‘I am made aware of who contacts the team, and that is down to a really great relationship I have with Toto,’ Hamilton said.
‘He is very open…