"We're almost there," says Hamilton of Mercedes deal


Dismissing the speculation linking him with a $50m move to Maranello, Lewis Hamilton insists that a new deal with Mercedes is almost done.

With typical flare in terms of dramatic impact, today's FIA press conference saw Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton sat inches apart, just days after a British tabloid claimed that pair were on the verge of swapping seats for the 2024 season.

Asked where he believes the rumours come from, Hamilton didn't name names but admitted that the originator, Jonathan McEvoy of the Daily Mail, was in the room.

Given the opportunity to end the speculation in person, the seven-time world champion said: "Naturally, when you are in contact negotiations there is always going to be speculation... and unless you hear it from me, that's all it is.

"My team is working closely behind the scenes with Toto," he added, "and we are almost at the point of having the contract ready. I'm having the team focused on that so I can just do my job.

"It's a much better position than I used to be in before," he smiled, "because I used to do the negotiations on my own and it was very stressful. I don't have to do that anymore.

"My team is chatting and having the discussions with the team in the background and we are almost there."

Asked specifically if there had been any contact with Ferrari, he insisted: "No!"

Following the cancellation of the race at Imola, Mercedes much-anticipated upgrade has been held over until this weekend, and while the characteristics of the track are unlikely to give a real impression of how much of an improvement they make, Hamilton admits that he is glad to finally have them on the car.

However, with many speculating that should the upgrades fail to make a significant difference, especially at Barcelona next weekend, this could prove the tipping point in his negotiations with Mercedes, the Briton insisted: "No, it doesn't have a bearing. We are still a championship-winning team, it's just we've had the wrong car and made some decisions over the past few years that have not been ideal.

"We are working through that and all the energy is going towards the new upgrade this weekend," he added. "The team has worked incredibly hard to bring this upgrade and we already decided after Bahrain it was what we are going to do.

"I was a little bit gutted when the last race got cancelled because I was excited to try this new package," he admitted, "and while here is not the best platform track-wise to really see those come to fruition, we will hopefully experience that more next week."

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Published: 25/05/2023
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