Hamilton may have decided to quit McLaren – No


Lewis Hamilton

McLaren are ever closer to confirming a new contract with Lewis Hamilton, team Managing Director Jonathan Neale told Sky Sports. Any rumors of a departure were all but confirmed as untrue when Mark Webber signed another one-year contract with Red Bull earlier this year. Hamilton has already said that he is thinking about longstanding goals, suggesting at least a three-year agreement.

“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 to confirm that a new deal is what both parties are looking for, Neale replied:

“Very much so…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."

Whether or not a deal is made public in the near future, a contract is likely to be signed across the summer break. Part of the delay is down to Hamilton wanting to retain trophies; McLaren tradition has always dictated that the team keeps original copies.

06/21/12 Despite admitting that Ron Dennis can be a tough negotiator, Lewis Hamilton is not apprehensive when it comes to signing his latest McLaren contract. The 2008 World Champion, whose current five-year deal ends later this year, is soon expected to announce an extension to his time with the Woking-based outfit.

Although Dennis handed over Team Principal responsibilities to Martin Whitmarsh from 2009, the former remains head of the McLaren Group and is therefore still responsible for the direct dealings with driver contracts. Unlike in 2007, when father Anthony Hamilton was accountable, Lewis is now managed by Simon Fuller and his XIX Entertainment brand.

“I don’t see there being problems, to be honest," Hamilton told reporters at the Valencia Street Circuit on Thursday. “Ron’s a very tough negotiator; he was very tough when we put this contract together and I’m expect the same when we go back in."

Seemingly taking less risks on-track in 2012, Hamilton went on to discuss the current championship situation. He currently leads the way by just two points.

“I don’t think my approach is too different, but you do need to be a bit more sensible this year," he continued, having finished no race this season in any lower than eighth place. “We’ve had seven different winners, Fernando (Alonso) and I have scored in every race and the championship is so close…but I still want to win every race."

Hamilton is yet to win in Valencia; having finished second in the three races of 2008 to 2010, the McLaren driver took the checkered flag in fourth position last year.

06/11/12 (GMM) Ron Dennis has hinted the hold-up regarding a new contract for Lewis Hamilton is a disagreement about money.

The Montreal winner and new championship leader's existing long-term deal runs out this year, but so far the two sides have been coy about the likelihood of a new contract for 2013 and beyond.

McLaren, however, has hinted it definitely wants to keep the 2008 world champion, while 27-year-old Hamilton has hinted he wants to stay, triggering speculation the dispute is over the details of the new contract.

Dennis, McLaren's executive chairman who was in Montreal on Sunday, suggested to Sky Sports that money is indeed a factor.

"He's on the end of a contract which was signed at a time when the economy was somewhat different and now there has to be a balance," he said.

Asked if that means a pay-cut for Hamilton, Dennis answered: "He's very highly paid. He's certainly paid more than I am!"

Hamilton has been linked with moves to Red Bull and Mercedes, and Dennis confirmed that McLaren also needs to look at its options on the driver market.

"You're obviously going to look at what's available; where can he go – he's going to look at that – (and) we're going to look at who's available," he said.

"At the end of the day, hopefully, the fact that he's been part of this team from the beginning of his career will pay a significant role in whatever decisions both sides make."

06/08/12 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton has admitted he has thought about leaving McLaren at the end of the season.

But the 2008 world champion also indicated he is likely to stay put.

27-year-old Hamilton's contract expires at the end of 2012, but speculation about his plans have lingered for some time.

McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale said this week the Woking based team wants to retain the Briton.

But when asked in Montreal on Thursday if he could wait until the season is over before making a decision, Hamilton answered: "Possibly.

"I am not in any rush, no rush at all, so there is no need to do it now," he added.

It has been rumored the hold-up is not just about money, but also Hamilton's time off and freedom to separately exploit his image commercially.

"I've thought of a move," Hamilton told London's Evening Standard newspaper, while indicating he will probably extend his long McLaren tenure.

"At some stage my management will have to sit down and start planning. I'm very happy where I am so I think it may be fairly simple," he added.

McLaren's top team rivals all have theoretical vacancies for 2013, as Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Mark Webber (Red Bull) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari) have expiring contracts.

"I know Sebastian Vettel has said he wants to drive for Ferrari and Mercedes, teams with a big tradition," said Hamilton.

"I don't feel like it's a dream to drive for Ferrari. I already drive for another great brand that makes beautiful cars.

"The McLaren is the best car out there, I believe, and the team has a great history."

06/04/12 (GMM) McLaren moved to play down rumors Lewis Hamilton might quit the team even before his contract expires at the end of this year.

Reports late last week said that despite McLaren offering the 2008 over $30 million per year to stay in 2013 and beyond, sources are hinting 27-year-old Hamilton has already decided to leave due to repeated team errors and a mysterious lack of pace.

At the same time, it has emerged there has been "serious contact" between McLaren and Paul di Resta, who ironically is managed by Hamilton's manager Anthony.

Writing in the Times, correspondent Kevin Eason dismissed the reports as "wild rumors" that McLaren have also felt the need to "react to".

"Hamilton has no desire to leave McLaren," he insisted, "a team that has provided at least two victories in every season of his career.

"Hamilton has repeatedly said that he was happy to stay with McLaren, even on Sunday night, after a disappointing Monaco grand prix", Eason added.

The journalist, however, conceded that Hamilton's management – led by XIX Entertainment's Simon Fuller – "are known to have contacted rivals", even though "no other approaches" with the exception of Red Bull have been made.

McLaren quoted Hamilton as saying last Friday: "Even though everything hasn't gone right for us, I'm confident that myself and the team are doing everything we can to ensure we're in the best possible position to challenge for victory each and every weekend."

06/03/12 Lewis Hamilton will not remain with McLaren next season and could even leave the Woking-based outfit before the end of this year, according to French TV F1 commentator, Jean-Louis Moncet. Writing in his latest Auto Plus blog, he says one of his 'best sources' has told him the that Englishman is keen to move on – and that sensationally the 2008 F1 World Champion might actually jump ship before the 2012 season ends, if the 'situation does not improve', with McLaren having made 'serious contact' with Paul di Resta. The speculation has come about as Hamilton is approaching the end of his initial five-year deal with the team.

06/01/12 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton may already have decided to quit McLaren, according to a reliable source.

That is the claim of the French TF1 television commentator Jean-Louis Moncet, writing in his Auto Plus column.

It emerged recently that McLaren has offered the 2008 world champion – whose current contract runs out this year – over $30 million a season to stay at the British team for five more years.

But Moncet said "one of my best sources" is reporting that Briton Hamilton has effectively already decided to leave McLaren at the end of 2012 "and even earlier if the situation does not improve".

British newspapers reported after Monaco that Hamilton was angry at the end of last weekend, the 27-year-old insisting "the team definitely have some work to do" to cut out errors and return to the pace.

Moncet said there has been "serious contact between McLaren and Paul di Resta", the rising Force India driver who ironically is managed by Hamilton's father Anthony.

Referring to the speculation surrounding Hamilton at present, former driver, driver manager and respected British commentator Martin Brundle noted: "He's comfortable at McLaren.

"But will he fancy a bit of fresh oxygen by going somewhere else?" he wondered to Sky Sports. "I imagine he's weighing that all up at the moment."

05/25/12 (GMM) McLaren is offering Lewis Hamilton a lucrative new contract for 2013 and beyond, British newspapers are reporting from Monaco.

The stories – in all the major dailies including the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, Express, the Star, the Sun, the Mirror and the Times – consistently contradicted an earlier rumor that Hamilton might need to take a pay-cut if he wants to stay with the British team beyond this year.

The Guardian said McLaren has in fact put a five-year, $150 million contract on the table, which combined with bonuses might mean Hamilton overtakes Fernando Alonso as F1's highest paid driver.

"No formal talks have taken place yet … but it is believed that McLaren … are ready to make their move," the report read.

The Telegraph concurred, explaining that the new deal might involve a "lower basic salary" but "more control" for Hamilton to sign up his own sponsors.

"It is understood that (his manager) Simon Fuller … will be in London in July and August … and negotiations are likely to pick up pace at that point," said that report.

British commentator Martin Brundle said: "Will McLaren allow him some space and sometime of his own to sell? I think that will be more of a key factor than a couple of dodgy pit stops, frankly."

The Daily Mail added: "While McLaren are eager to get discussions under way, Hamilton's management are understandably biding their time, given there could yet be opportunities at Mercedes, Red Bull and even Ferrari next season."

The Mirror said McLaren will entice Hamilton to sign for a full five years by offering him "almost a third of the entire ($150m) sum in this final (fifth) year".

The Times' Kevin Eason said the information came from "reliable sources" on the eve of the Monaco grand prix.

05/24/12 (GMM) Money could be at the heart of the delay in Lewis Hamilton's re-signing with the McLaren team.

Until now, the British team has indicated it wants the 2008 world champion to stay on board, while 27-year-old Hamilton insists he has no plans to leave and will turn his attention to the 2013 contract soon.

But according to Blick newspaper, McLaren is pushing to cut Hamilton's existing contract retainer "in half" to "about EUR 10 million".

The Swiss report said the driver is unimpressed with the negotiations so far, but at least Hamilton's mood has improved tenfold compared with his calamitous 2011.

It is a full year since Hamilton raged about his "frickin ridiculous" track rivals in the 2011 Monaco grand prix, when he also half-seriously suggested that the stewards were targeting him "because I'm black".

He is back on top form this season, but still yet to win a race, arguably mainly due to McLaren's numerous team mistakes.

Reports have suggested boss Martin Whitmarsh, who insists Hamilton "deserves" to win this weekend in Monaco, is worried the mistakes might drive the highly rated racer away.

On Wednesday, however, Hamilton denied he is frustrated.

"I'm not, no. This is the way racing goes sometimes," he insisted.

"I could easily get frustrated because I could have a healthy lead in the championship — but that's not the case.

"I don't want to speak too early but something has definitely changed. Whatever I'm doing is working," he told British reporters.

"In life, things just seem a lot better and that's enabling me to get on with my job without having any baggage."

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