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2018 F1

Hamilton ‘will stay at Mercedes’ – Lauda

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Lewis Hamilton will eventually sign a new deal to stay at Mercedes. That is the claim of F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda, even though extended talks between the two sides have so far not succeeded.

But Lauda told Auto Motor und Sport: “It’s just about the details.

“Lewis will continue to drive for us.”

He admits, however, that the negotiations have been a rollercoaster, particularly as they have spanned both good times and Hamilton’s more recent slump.

“Depending on the mood, it is sometimes more or less expensive,” Lauda said. “It always depends on how the last race went.

“But the money is not a problem. We agree in principle.”

Hamilton denies that the uncertainty about his future could explain in part his performance slump, insisting: “When I’m driving I’m not thinking about contracts.”

In reality, Mercedes can relax. Hamilton has scant options, and his teammate Valtteri Bottas is now starting to perform strongly and consistently.

“That was the best race I’ve ever seen from Valtteri,” boss Toto Wolff said after China.

There have been rumours Daniel Ricciardo might move to Mercedes, but Red Bull is now offering him a winning car and Dr Helmut Marko says money is not an issue.

“We have a very good bonus system,” he said. “He is already well placed.”

Ricciardo, who says he has “options”, told The Times that he is looking for a two-year contract to coincide with the end of the Concorde Agreement.

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