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Hamilton delays Mercedes contract talks

Hamilton delays Mercedes contract talks
© Reuters
Lewis Hamilton's £40million-a-year deal expires at the end of the season.

Lewis Hamilton has told Mercedes he does not want to open contract negotiations so he can focus on matching Michael Schumacher's record.

Hamilton's £40million-a-year deal expires at the end of the season, and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is keen to tie the six-time world champion down to a new contract.

But Hamilton, 35, who appears poised to stay with Mercedes after Ferrari last week distanced themselves from a move for the Briton, is in no rush to start talking about his future.

"We have not sat down yet," said Hamilton. "I know Toto is keen to, but right now the focus is on trying to be fit and ready for the new season.

"You want to start the new year on the right foot so the contract is not something to get bogged down with.

"I don't see a particular rush. In the coming months I am sure we will sit down and discuss it."

Hamilton, who finished ninth on the second day of testing at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya as his Mercedes team focused on mileage rather than outright speed, revealed fine details will play the decisive role in a deal which could earn him up to £60m-a-year.

Fresh from launching his latest Tommy Hilfiger clothing range in London earlier this week, Hamilton added: "People talk about freedom as if it is a bad thing and it is not at all.

"Mercedes allow me to be who I am, rather than keep me constricted, and ask me to be a certain way, speak a certain way or dress a certain way, which is often what you see at elsewhere.

"There were question marks over the different things that I do, but everyone has seen the results I have had over the last two years. The freedom helps me to be more engaged, it helps me be an even better driver than I thought I could be.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton finished ninth on the second day of testing at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya (Joan Monfort/AP)

"The next step is figuring out what's the five-to-10-year plan, and how this decision impacts the future, so when I do stop and hang up my helmet, I am able to continue doing other things."

Hamilton will discuss his deal with team principal Wolff. Reflecting on talks over his current two-year contract which started in 2019, Hamilton said: "Last time we sat on my couch, just shooting the breeze.

"Toto tries to ask for something, I combat it. It is back and forth. Last time it took eight to 10 hours. It goes back to the bad cops, who are the lawyers, but we don't have any problems.

"We share the same values, our goals are the same, and our respect for each other is huge."

Hamilton completed 106 laps on Thursday as Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen finished fastest, two tenths clear of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

The first test concludes on Friday. The teams will return to Barcelona next week for three days of running ahead of the season-opening race in Melbourne on March 15.

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