© Provided by IBT US
The Lewis Hamilton contract saga looks to be finally reaching its conclusion with reports suggesting an announcement will be made during the French Grand Prix weekend starting June 22.
The Briton will be out of contract with his Mercedes team at the end of the current campaign and has been in talks over an extension since the end of last season.
Hamilton and Mercedes have continually stated their commitment to each other, but, have been unable to reach an agreement. The delay has given rise to speculation about the driver potentially waiting to find out if Mercedes continues to be the best team on the grid, especially since Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel are mounting a serious title challenge again this season.
The four-time world champion dismissed the rumors and made it clear that he wishes to remain with Mercedes for the foreseeable future. However, Mercedes and Hamilton revealed they had to focus their attention on improving their car after being beaten in the opening three races of the season, which delayed contract talks.© Provided by IBT US
Niki Lauda, the team’s non-executive chairman, confirmed that a deal had been agreed in principal, with only a few details left to be sorted.
"It's all about common ground," Mercedes team chairman Lauda said, as quoted on F1i.com. "The lawyers are sending the documents back and forth. It takes a lot of time. But we are in no hurry.”
"If you know that you want to marry, the wedding date does not matter," the former Ferrari driver added.
According to German publication Auto Motor und Sport, via F1i, the two parties have finally reached an agreement with an announcement expected to take place during the French Grand Prix at the Circuit Paul Ricard. The race is on Sunday, June 24, but the weekend begins with the pre-race press conferences on Thursday.
The report claims that Hamilton will put pen-to-paper on a two-year deal that will make him one of the highest paid drivers on the grid. Signing up the Briton was Mercedes’ main priority and they will now switch focus to deciding on his teammate for next season.
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, confirmed that Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo is being considered as one of the options, but indicated that they will first look within their team for Hamilton’s teammate.
Valtteri Bottas has stated his desire to remain with the team in the long-term and could well be considered owing to his impressive performances this season. The Finn has recorded four second place finishes in seven races and is just 34 points behind his teammate in third place in the Drivers’ championship standings.
The reigning champions will also consider the younger drivers on the team’s roster, namely, Esteban Ocon, currently with Force India and George Russell, who is driving in F2, the sport’s feeder series. Wolff confirmed that a final decision on the second driver will be made in the summer.
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/motorsports/mercedes-set-to-announce-lewis-hamiltons-new-deal-during-french-gp/ar-AAyGTZc