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2018 F1

Hamilton and Mercedes close to sign F1’s most lucrative deal in history

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Four-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is ready to sign the most lucrative driver deal in Formula One history within the next month as he prepares his bid to become only the third man to win the world championship five times, with his new Mercedes pay-packet believed to earn him up to £40m-per-year.

Speaking at the launch of the Mercedes’ new W09 car at Silverstone, Hamilton indicated the signing could come in a matter of weeks.

“Hopefully we’ll have something done before the beginning of the season, before the start of the first race,” said the 33-year-old Briton, whose current deal expires at the end of the year.

“We’ve been talking for a while but I don’t like to do it over the phone and I wasn’t back here until February,” Hamilton said. “I have spoken with (Mercedes team boss) Toto Wolff, and we spoke about how we are committed to each other.

“I know there’s no one else better and Toto knows there’s no one else better than me, so he is not looking anywhere else.

“It is just the details, so hopefully it’s done before the start of the season, before the first race, but there’s no rush, and no panic. The Brit added

“I am not feeling pressure from other drivers and Toto has no reason to believe I am speaking to anyone else. In the six years I have been here, I have not spoken to another team and that shows how committed I am.”

Wolff said that he had spoken to Hamilton regularly by phone and through messaging and hoped to have the deal done within “a few weeks” and “the sooner the better”.

“He (Hamilton) has been with the team six years so we are talking about extending that to a very long time with the same driver in the same team,” said the Austrian.

Hamilton has slowly returned to social media in recent weeks, he has admitted he will filter his posts.

“We had already planned at the end of the year to start a clean slate, and it just so happened that it was an opportunistic time to change it,” Hamilton said as he reflected on his social media purge.

“Moving forward, there is a balance you have to strike. I have been very open with my life for several years and it is always difficult to make a change because I have enjoyed being open.

“But we are living in strange times where things are magnified a lot more than they were in previous years. It is a critical time for the world.

“I will continue to show the world what I am doing, but it is about being more strategic in what I do show and don’t show. Social media is still the gateway to connect to fans, so it will be a part of my life. As to how deep I will go, we will see.”

Hamilton will get his first appropriate taste of this year’s Mercedes at next week’s opening winter test in Barcelona before the curtain raiser in Melbourne on March 25.

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