Belfast Telegraph

New champion Lewis Hamilton expecting fresh Mercedes deal

By Ian Parkes

Lewis Hamilton believes signing a new contract with Mercedes will be "a formality" after clinching his second Formula One world title.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff had previously mentioned that he would sit down with Hamilton and the team's non-executive chairman Niki Lauda to thrash out a deal once the distraction of the title fight was over.

Hamilton can now relax after his victory in Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix made him only the 16th driver in F1 history to win at least two championships.

It is understood that the details of a contract which keeps Hamilton at Mercedes for the next two years - with the option of a third in 2017 - are all but finalised.

Hamilton said: "Someone mentioned it's pretty much a formality. It really is pretty much a formality I would have thought."

Hamilton manages his own affairs now after opting to dispense with the services of XIX Management, and will find himself in new territory when he sits down for talks with Wolff and Lauda at some point over the next fortnight.

Not that he is concerned, as he said: "I haven't made any decisions on how you go about it.

"Ultimately driving is what I do best. I'm not a businessman, I'm not a contract negotiator. Nothing is really decided on how the meeting will go.

"But it's very easy speaking with Niki. He was telling me about an experience he had years ago with (F1 supremo) Bernie (Ecclestone).

"He was trying to negotiate his contract, he asked for a certain amount, Bernie said no, but it all worked out.

"I said, 'Thanks, now I know how to approach it with you!', but the contract I currently have is a great contract.

"I'm going to take some time to try and understand how I can help the team more, how the team can get more, and how the team can utilise me more.

"Because I have a lot of followers it's about how I can utilise the experience more. Ultimately I think not a huge amount will change."

Three-times champion Lauda, who lured Hamilton to the team two years ago on the promise of making him a world champion again, for one does not envisage any problems on this occasion either.

"Not at all," said Lauda.

"We are going to do this in the next two weeks. He's happy and we're happy, so I don't see any issues."

The title triumph means Hamilton can now look forward to a winter of considerable content.

Hamilton turns 30 on January 7, and he realises he will need to be fitter than ever - physically and mentally - if he is to become a triple world champion.

"I can't wait for this winter," said Hamilton."I'm going to enjoy myself. It's going to be the greatest winter I've ever had.

"But also I'm conscious I'm getting older, my body's getting older, so I want to prepare it differently, I want to look after it.

"I'm going to potentially have a championship-winning car again next season."

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