Still no end to Hamilton saga
Fresh reports suggest improved McLaren offer but no agreement
Last Updated: 25/09/12 9:32am
McLaren have presented Lewis Hamilton with an improved offer in order to persuade him not to leave for Mercedes but the 27-year-old remains in no hurry to sign a deal, according to the latest installments in the saga of the summer.
According to a fresh wave of newspaper reports about Hamilton's future, the McLaren team are increasingly confident that the 2008 World Champion will opt to stay - and remain so despite his gut-wrenching retirement from the lead of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix.
Both before and even after his exit from the race, Hamilton's demeanour around the McLaren camp was noticeably more upbeat than it has been at previous events and The Guardian says that his employers 'expect their driver to stay, probably making a decision within the week'.
'Many at McLaren had concluded their driver was to switch to Mercedes but Hamilton has been impressed by the renewed competitive qualities of the car that until Sunday's breakdown saw him emerge as Alonso's strongest challenger,' it adds.
The diminishing likelihood of Hamilton transferring to Mercedes was reflected in remarks published on Monday in which F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone revealed that, although he had been previously certain that Hamilton would drive for Mercedes in 2013, he was no longer sure that was the case.
"I don't think Hamilton knows what he will do," said Ecclestone. "These last couple or three races he has been doing very well. Before that, why he was upset I don't know, but he was definitely going to move no matter what.
"He had made up his mind that he was going. Whether he has changed now a little bit I don't know."
Nor does anyone else with absolute conviction.
Though The Guardian's report is headlined by the news that McLaren have upped their offer to Hamilton and are increasingly confident their overtures will be accepted, the newspaper also adds that 'deal to secure Hamilton is still not complete' and 'the new offer is still short of what Hamilton is currently paid.'
For their part, The Times says that 'even the most seasoned F1 watchers have been unable to gauge which way Hamilton will swing' and 'nerves are fraying behind closed doors as one of the most protracted contract negotiations in Formula One drags on', while The Daily Telegraph claims 'Niki Lauda set to be offered a senior role at Mercedes in the event that the 2008 World Champion signs for the team. Lauda, the three-time world champion, has been instrumental in their overtures, selling Hamilton a vision of a 'super-team' spearheaded by the Briton and Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn.'