Lewis Hamilton commits to Mercedes despite Ferrari win
Lewis Hamilton will sign his new contract with Mercedes this week at a time when Ferrari have given him food for thought that a third Formula One world title may not be such a formality after all.
The negotiations, conducted by Hamilton himself with the top brass at Mercedes, notably motorsport boss Toto Wolff, is all done and dusted, with the paperwork now in the hands of the lawyers to sign off.
"It should be done this week," said Hamilton.
"There is no reason why it shouldn't be. Honestly, it's 99.6 per cent done. There's no negotiating left, it's just legal stuff."
There was one cheeky question in Hamilton's post-Malaysian Grand Prix debrief as to whether Ferrari's win in Malaysia had made him think of potentially switching sides.
Hamilton smiled before replying: "No, don't be silly."
But Sebastian Vettel's victory, just a fortnight after a Mercedes one-two in Australia had suggested 2015 would be as easy for the Brackley-based marque as 2014, totally blind-sided Hamilton.
"I didn't see it coming," added Hamilton, forced to settle for second behind Vettel, with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg third.
"I went into the race very open minded in that I knew things would be tougher, but even so I went in with a good feeling we would be able to fight and win.
"In the end it was damage limitation. If that was a bad day, where we still get second and third, then that's pretty good."
Hamilton, though, appreciates he now has a battle on his hands if he is to win that third championship, and not just with Rosberg.
"I don't think the win was a one-off. I don't think they (Ferrari) were lucky. They just did a solid job," assessed Hamilton.
"But nor do I think it was a wake-up call for us. I don't think we were in need of one, after all we won by 30 seconds in the last race.
"It has given us a pinch to suggest, 'Oh, okay, we've got a race on our hands'. We're a racing team, and we will be quicker in the next race. We'll manage, we'll be absolutely fine.
"We've a great group of people, a great approach, and from this we'll take a step back.
"They (Ferrari) are too close to us in the championship so we'll work very hard to analyse what we learned and apply it so it doesn't happen again at the next race."