Hamilton 'close' to new Mercedes deal

Barcelona (AFP) –


Lewis Hamilton says he is close to signing a new Mercedes contract after winning Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix watched by several members of the all-conquering German constructor's board.

In the aftermath of his dominant triumph ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas the defending four-time world champion indicated he will soon be inking a long-awaited new deal with the champions.

An announcement before or during the Monaco Grand Prix later this month is now expected.

?All the bosses have been here and l don't think there is anyone in the hierarchy who has any concerns," said Hamilton.

"We do talk about it and we are not far away from finishing things. It will happen - hopefully in the near future."

The 33-year-old Englishman was so thrilled by both his own personal return to form and the team?s work on improving his car?s performance at the Circuit de Catalunya that he suggested, after the race, that he may sign a long-term deal.

It had been rumoured that he was reluctant to sign a new contract because he feared losing enjoyment of the racing and had reservations about the sport's future direction under new American owners Liberty Media.

But after securing his 64th career win in majestic fashion in a crushing Mercedes one-two that hoisted both driver and team clear at the top of their respective championships, he said: ?If I keep this feeling then I'm going to be racing for a long time!?

Team boss Toto Wolff was also more positive ? not only about their performance, but also securing Hamilton for the long-term future.

"It?s almost all sorted,? he said. ?We don't want to lose him and l don't think he wants to go anywhere else? Everything is going fine. We have had other priorities in the last few weeks.

?We weren't happy with the performance of the cars and we needed to sort things out. Finalising a contract takes time and we both decided to park it."

Hamilton, like team-mate Bottas, has less than year remaining on his current contract and has been elusive on making any firm commitments to both Mercedes and Formula One at various times in recent months.

But his emphatic win on Sunday, when he and Mercedes appeared to have rediscovered the form of past triumphant seasons, may be seen as a major turning point for all concerned.

While Ferrari faltered, with four-time former champion Sebastian Vettel finishing fourth and Kimi Raikkonen retiring with power problems, Hamilton did not put a wheel wrong on his way to confidence-boosting victory.

- 'High note' -

"I would like to hope that this race could be part of a turning point," said Hamilton. "I said that I wanted to come here and win the way that I won and when I came across the line I was just happy that I did as I planned.

"The team have been working very hard to understand the tyres and how the car works so I think it all came together this weekend.

"We definitely go to Monaco on a high note, but we know that we still have a lot of work to do. That said, I will sleep like a baby tonight."

Hamilton will hope also that Ferrari fail to repeat the form that brought them a one-two finish in the Mediterranean principality last year where Vettel won.

On Sunday, the German admitted: "No excuses ? they were faster than us and beat us fair and square this time, but we can bounce back."

Wolff added that Hamilton?s triumph would repair some of the damage done by his recent loss of form and confidence.

"The best ones are very sensitive and fragile and that is something we know and he knows," he explained.

"He was solidly in the lead in Melbourne and suddenly he was behind the Ferrari. It is difficult to cope with and in the following races we struggled.

"But having such a good weekend here and winning by a solid margin is very important for his confidence."