Neale: Hamilton deal close

McLaren Managing Director confirms both sides want new contract

By William Esler.   Last Updated: 15/08/12 9:52am

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McLaren Managing Director Jonathon Neale says the team are close to agreeing a new deal with 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

The British team guided Hamilton's junior career before bringing him into Formula 1 in 2007, to partner Fernando Alonso.

The 27-year-old had been linked with a move to Red Bull and Mercedes, but with Mark Webber agreeing a new deal with the World Champions and Michael Schumacher looking likely to stay on for at least another year with the Silver Arrows, options for Hamilton are limited.

"We are closer and of course we are in dialogue," Neale told Sky Sports.

"For obvious reasons I can't speculate more at the moment. We are working very hard to find a common ground."

When asked if a new deal was what both Hamilton and McLaren wanted Neale added: "Very much so."

Hamilton is currently 47 points behind Alonso in the standings, but, with nine races remaining and a possible 225 points available, Neale believes Hamilton can still be triumphant in 2012.

"Mathematically it is still possible, 25 points for a win and it doesn't take much to switch those," he added.

"We have got a quick car. Our car was in better shape than Ferrari at the last race. He is a fighter, he loves a challenge. He just needs a sniff of it and to feel that the team is behind him and pushing.

"And I think if he feels we are pushing and bring the upgrades and dealing with the issues as they arise then he will be fighting for the title at the end of the season."

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