Hamilton hints at McLaren extension
Championship leader doesn't expect 'problems' during contract talks
Last Updated: 21/06/12 5:53pm
Lewis Hamilton says he doesn't foresee "many problems" arising when his team of negotiators open talks with McLaren later this summer about a new contract.
The World Championship leader's current deal with the team expires at the end of this year and it has been widely speculated that he could be an option for Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes - all of whom are expected to have driver vacancies to fill for 2013.
It was reported on the eve of last month's Monaco GP that McLaren, determined not to let their protégé escape into the clutches of one of their rivals, were preparing a £100m deal for Hamilton. However, speaking after Hamilton's victory in Canada, Group Chairman Ron Dennis indicated that the 2008 World Champion might have to accept a pay cut compared to his present deal due to the worldwide financial slowdown.
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Asked in Thursday's press conference in Valencia whether he accepted that he might have to rein in his wage demands due to the change in the economic conditions, a smiling Hamilton replied: "Ron is very tough negotiator and was very tough when they negotiated the contract I have now. I expect him to be the same when we go back in, but I don't see there being that many problems, to be honest."
That expectation would seemingly indicate that Hamilton is minded to stay at McLaren although, with so many pieces of the 2013 driver line-up yet to fall into place, speculation about his future is bound to continue until pen is finally put to paper.
"I am proud to still be part of this team and working with the guys," Hamilton later told Sky Sports News. "I'm not thinking about the next step. Things will fall into place when they need to."
Intriguingly, Fernando Alonso has insisted that, contrary to reports he has vetoed the possibility of Hamilton moving to Ferrari, he would have no objection to being reunited with the driver with whom he endured such an acrimonious year at McLaren in 2007.
"[It would be] no problem," Fernando replied when asked if he would welcome either Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel to Maranello.
However, the Spaniard did confirm that he is already involved in talks about who might be his next team-mate.
"In the past, never, but now in Ferrari, yes. I am in Italy every week and when I am there sometimes I see the president and we talk about the development of the car, Formula 1, and also about the future and team-mates."