Hamilton counters Button and Hill contract delay talk

Lewis Hamilton has countered claims made by fellow champions Jenson Button and Damon Hill over his future with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has countered claims made by fellow champions Jenson Button and Damon Hill over his future with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has countered suggestions from fellow British F1 drivers Jenson Button and Damon Hill that he is stalling on signing a new contract with Mercedes.

The 2009 and 1996 champions respectively have suggested that seven-time title-winner Hamilton is waiting to see whether his W14 will be competitive or not this season before putting pen to paper.

Hamilton, who is currently in the final year of his latest agreement with Mercedes, has already held an initial conversation with team principal Toto Wolff over another extension.

The team’s latest challenger, however, has suggested Hamilton may have to wait a while longer before ending what is currently a 23-race streak – the longest of his F1 career – without a grand prix victory.

Mulling over why Hamilton had not committed himself as yet, speaking to British newspaper The Telegraph recently, Button said: “It can only be because he’s wondering how competitive they will be. Why otherwise would you leave it this late?”

Hill aired a similar remark, questioning Hamilton’s desire to continue should Mercedes fail to provide him with a car with which he can again challenge for wins and titles.

Asked if he was holding out to see if Mercedes provided him with a winning car, speaking to the media in Bahrain, including Speedcafe, Hamilton said: “Not at all.

“Ultimately, people creating rumours without facts, it’s never helpful. You would have thought that they (Button and Hill) would both know me by now. I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13.

“Having a difficult year last year, I’m still here. Whether or not we have a difficult year this year, I’ll still be here. I’m a fighter, and we fight as a team.”

Hamilton – there is no contract hold-up

Mercedes endured a difficult three-day pre-season test in Bahrain last week, particularly on the second day during which Russell encountered a hydraulic problem that ended his running early.

The feeling in F1 is that Mercedes is comfortably lagging behind Red Bull and Ferrari, potentially even Aston Martin.

Hamilton, though, has every confidence in Mercedes that he will be fighting again for victories this season, and in Wolff that a new deal will be sorted soon

“I love the challenge of finding solutions, and I still believe I’m able to put the car in places that perhaps others are not able to,” said Hamilton.

“Of course, I wish that we start the season with a great car, but it’s the journey that really counts.

“And there is no hold up with our contract. I’ve always been very, very relaxed.

“I don’t feel like I have to get it done right this second. I’m in a very fortunate position.

“It will get done when we’re ready. I have a great relationship with Toto and with Mercedes, and we fully support each other, and I’m really excited to build the future together.

“I’m really proud of the work that we’re doing on and off the track, and the potential of the things we can do moving forward.

“So we’ll get there – unless something catastrophic happens”, before jokingly adding: “With me and Toto getting into a ring – but, no, it’s all good.”

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