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Hamilton planning to extend Mercedes contract

MONZA, Italy -- Lewis Hamilton is planning to sign a new contract with Mercedes before the end of the year, saying Sebastian Vettel's commitment to Ferrari for the next three seasons has made a decision about his long-term future a lot easier.

Up until now, the British three-time world champion had only spoken vaguely about his plans beyond the end of his current contract in 2018, but on Thursday he made it clear that he plans to remain at Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton. ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images
"I don't know if everyone expected him [Vettel] to sign a three-year deal, but it doesn't really change much for me to be honest," Hamilton said. "I had planned to extend with the team, which we will do at some point in the second half of the season or towards the end of the year.

"I know Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team boss] has said that we will wait to the end of the season, and that's generally because that's what I like to do but there's is no rush because we still have another year [before the contract expires]. I think the last contract went all the way into the mid part of the season before signing, so I know there is no rush and the team is fully committed to me."

Vettel had been linked to a Mercedes deal in recent months after it emerged he held preliminary talks with team chairman Niki Lauda earlier this year. Hamilton said Vettel's decision to commit to Ferrari until the end of 2020 had made his long-term plan in F1 easier to formulate, even if it had not impacted his decision post-2018.

"I've never picked up the phone and spoken to any of these other teams, so I've made it very clear to the guys [at Mercedes] that I am not trying to weigh up my options and if I was I would say I would do my due diligence and see what options there are for me.

"But currently I have no plans to do that and it's good for Sebastian that he has signed there. I think all things happen for a reason, and in the plan that I have coming up -- my five or six years I have left in the sport -- that piece of the puzzle is now in place, so it makes my decision a lot easier."

And Hamilton said he was aware of Vettel's discussions with Mercedes, revealing that Wolff keeps him up to date on all the drivers who have approached Mercedes.

"I'm aware of the background and I'm made aware of who contacts the team, which is down to a really great relationship I have with Toto. He's very open with me who calls and it's very interesting to see who's trying to take my seat or take the seat next door to me, and then to see, following those calls, the moves that happen. Such as, for example, Sebastian signing."

Author: Laurence Edmondson, ESPN UK
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20520239/hamilton-planning-extend-mercedes-contract

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