MONACO (AP) — Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton said Thursday he’s not been approached by Ferrari and is hopeful a contract extension with Mercedes will be finalized “in the coming weeks.”
The 38-year-old is in a contract year with Mercedes and recent reports have linked Hamilton to a move to Ferrari. But the British driver said at the Monaco Grand Prix there have been no talks with Ferrari and his personal team is negotiating with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
“Naturally, in contract negotiations there’s always going to be speculation,” Hamilton said. “My team’s working closely behind the scenes with Toto. We’re almost at the end of having a contract ready.”
Hamilton, the F1 record-holder with 103 grand prix wins and 103 pole positions, was asked when he expected a contract to be signed.
“That’s what we’re working towards, so hopefully in the coming weeks,” he said. “I’ve got a great team in the background doing all the work.”
Hamilton added he’s relieved he no longer does his own negotiating.
“Having the team focus on that so I can just do my job, that’s a much better position than I was in before,” he said. “Because I remember I used to do my negotiations on my own, and it was very stressful.”
Hamilton did not win a race last year for the first time in his career, dating to 2007. He has not won yet this season, either. But he still believes Mercedes can turn things around and insists the recent performance isn’t weighing on his decision whether to stay with the team.
“It doesn’t have a bearing, I think, because we’re still a championship-winning team,” he said. “It’s just, we’ve had the wrong car. There have been some decisions that have been made over the past two years that have not been ideal, and we’re working our way through that.”
Meanwhile, Ferrari team principal Frédéric Vasseur dismissed rumors of having approached Hamilton regarding a potential move to his team next year.
“You know perfectly that, at this stage of the season, you will have each week a different story. And we are not sending an offer to Lewis Hamilton. We didn’t do it,” the Frenchman said. “We didn’t have discussions.”
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who is teammates with Carlos Sainz Jr., was asked if he’d like Hamilton as a teammate.
“If I say, ‘Yes,’ I imagine it will be the title of every newspaper,” Leclerc said. “Lewis is such an incredible driver, has achieved so much in the sport, so I think anybody on the grid would love to have Lewis as a teammate, as everybody would learn a lot from him.
“I’m happy where I am and (with) Carlos, it’s a great relationship.”
Leclerc, who is signed with Ferrari through the end of this season, said he’s not started talks on a new deal yet.
“No talks on renewal now,” he said. “Still a lot of time.”
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