Lewis Hamilton in ‘no rush’ to secure 2019 Mercedes F1 deal
April 6 2018 , 6:33 pm
Lewis Hamilton says he will “not be rushed” into signing what he has described as the “most important” contract of his F1 career at Mercedes.
Hamilton’s expected deal from 2019 to stay at F1’s world champions is yet to be concluded, despite optimism from both parties during pre-season that it could even be settled before the first race of the season.
But Hamilton, who signed his current Mercedes deal in the May of his then-final year of contract, says he and the team remain content to take their time.
“The next contract is probably the most important one of my career,” the 33-year-old told reporters at the Bahrain GP.
“The last contract was the most important up until that point and the next one after that will be more important than the last one.
“The decision as to how long you want to commit to being in Formula 1 is becoming more important being as that I’m at the latter end of my career, so it’s one I’m not going to rush into.
“There is no rush, I will not be rushed into it. Ultimately you want to have all the information.”
Part of that information is likely to be how the sport looks from 2021, when the engine and aerodynamic rules plus revenue distribution are set to be overhauled.
Hamilton says he will follow Friday’s major F1 announcement – when the sport’s bosses are set to reveal their blueprint for the 2021 rules – with particular interest.
“I hear there is some sort of announcement to be made at some stage and I’m interested to see what is happening in Formula 1 because I am an integral part of it,” said Hamilton. “It would be great to know how it all sits for us. Maybe it’s going to affect you guys [the media], who knows?
“It’s actually come at a pretty good time because I still haven’t put pen to paper.
“It’s good for the team and good for us and it’s important that we do take our time. You should never ever rush it. The team is not saying they are talking to other drivers and since I’ve been with the team I’ve never spoken to another team.”
He added: “It’s a joint thing. If we had it ready we would sign today.”
Hamilton’s deal is expected to be a multi-year term until at least the end of 2020, the point at which Mercedes and the majority of teams are currently committed to the sport until. When the 2021 season begins, Hamilton, the third-oldest driver on this year’s grid, will be aged 36.
Hamilton expecting ‘close’ Bahrain fight
F1’s world champion driver and team arrive in Bahrain for the season’s second round aiming to make up for the disappointment and frustration of losing a season-opener in Australia they appeared to have won.
But having got to the bottom of glitches around their calculations for the Virtual Safety Car which let Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in for an unlikely victory, Hamilton feels Mercedes remain united and in a very strong place.
“Second is still pretty good, I was still happy with it,” said Hamilton.
“But I guess if we had started third and finished second there is a different feeling. When you’ve started first and fallen back to second that’s definitely not as good a feeling – you never want to be moving backwards.
“But the team all felt the same thing. We all sat together in the [airport] lounge after the race, had a drink together and it was incredibly unified. We all felt the same pain.
There are, for sure, certain individuals that probably had more sleepless nights than others maybe, but we come here really strong and positive and with a good direction of how to move forward. This is why it’s such a great team.”
Vettel suggested on Thursday that Mercedes’ early-2018 lap time advantage over the field was in the region of four tenths of a second, but Hamilton has challenged assertions that Mercedes have a significant pace advantage.
“I don’t think there has ever been an easy weekend,” he added.
“The cars are a lot closer than people seem to think. If you look at last year, from the first race to the second race everyone was a lot closer. The Ferrari always goes well here and we didn’t win the race last year. It will be close between us all.”