Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Hamilton Seeks New McLaren Deal

Lewis Hamilton has said he is confident he will sign a new contract to keep him at McLaren beyond 2012.

The 2008 world champion has been with McLaren since he was 13 but his current deal expires at the end of next year.

"I don't think there's any question of my commitment to the team," the 26-year-old said. "I just want to continue on this path."

Asked whether he thought it was likely he would stay, Hamilton replied: "I do. I'm confident about that."

Hamilton was heavily linked with a move to Red Bull earlier in the season after he met team boss Christian Horner in the paddock at the Canadian Grand Prix.

With Mark Webber and Felipe Massa out of contract at the end of 2012, seats are expected to be available at Red Bull and Ferrari respectively.

But the British driver revealed he has begun talks over a new contract with McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

"Martin has already spoken to me about re-signing, so I know it's there at some point, and I guess at some stage when we have time we'll sit down.

"There's no real rush to have to do anything. The most important thing is to focus on the season ahead."

Whitmarsh also believes Hamilton will continue his lengthy association with the team.

"By his extraordinarily high standards he has had a difficult year, but he's in a positive place right now," Whitmarsh said.

"There is a deep affection between him and the team and I'm sure that love affair will carry on for many years to come.

"I've known him since he was 11 but he is still a young man. I'm fairly confident we'll find a good way forward."

Hamilton, whose team-mate Jenson Button signed a 'multi-year' deal with McLaren in October, insisted he is in "a positive place within myself" despite a gearbox failure ending his participation in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, won by Mark Webber.

"Things are getting better," said Hamilton, who split with his girlfriend, the pop star Nicole Scherzinger, and dealt with the death of two close friends during what he described as his worst season in F1.

"What is most important for me next year is getting back to where I should be - to the good performances, to winning, to enjoying life, enjoying the year."