Lewis Hamilton is on the cusp of agreeing a new deal that could see him live out the remainder of his F1 career at Mercedes.
The reigning world champion has at Jerez been locked in tough talks with team chiefs Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff, amid speculation Mercedes might be eyeing Fernando Alonso while Hamilton is lining up Ferrari as an alternative.
Publicly, however, Hamilton and Mercedes have been making mutual declarations of love, and the major German daily Bild claims they are now close to agreeing a new deal for 2016 and beyond.
“Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of signing a new Mercedes contract,” the newspaper declared.
“Hard negotiations over two days have taken place at Jerez and it is quite possible he has even committed for the next five years and will thereafter retire,” Bild added.
Die Welt newspaper, meanwhile, quoted Wolff as insisting that Mercedes is keen to keep Hamilton.
“We know what we have with Lewis,” he said. “He is a real global star and the Lewis Hamilton brand is very valuable not only for formula one but also for us.
“Our relationship with him is very, very solid and I would be surprised if anything goes wrong,” Wolff added. (GMM)