Lewis Hamilton prepares to pledge future to Mercedes

Lawyers have not yet given the green light, but after 'tortuous' talks Hamilton is ready to sign a long-term deal

Lewis Hamilton
(Image credit: Mark Thompson / Getty)

Days before he races in the Malaysian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton is poised to commit his future to Mercedes for the next three years.

The Times describes the negotiations between the reigning Formula One world champion and Mercedes as "tortuous" but it appears the British driver will sign this week "providing his advisers give the go-ahead".

The talks have been protracted mainly because Hamilton has been meticulous in scrutinising every sentence of the contract in the presence of his personal lawyer, a process the British world champion described as "very, very nerve-racking". He added: "It is going back between the lawyers so hopefully it is done before the weekend."

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Assuming the contract is signed, the three-year deal will make Hamilton "the best-paid on the grid at about €150 million," (approximately £118m) according to the Times.

Hamilton won the championship last year with McLaren and though the 2015 season is only one race old, such was the car's dominance in Australia two weeks ago that the Briton is already the strong favourite to regain his title.

Eric Boullier, the McLaren racing director, admitted this week that it "may take more than a couple of years to catch up" with Mercedes, a frank admission that applies to the other teams all lagging behind Mercedes's advanced technology.

With Red Bull threatening to pull out of the championship because of what it perceives to be the injustice of the new regulations introduced last year, F1 is facing a crisis of confidence just one Grand Prix into the season. Hamilton, however, isn't allowing himself to be distracted by complaints from his rivals. "The next step is Malaysia and that's all I've been focusing on since we left Melbourne," he said. "I feel ready for anything and the aim is to repeat last year's performance. It took me eight attempts to win this race and I don't plan on waiting that long again."

Meanwhile Fernando Alonso still has to undergo a final medical check before he can race on Sunday. The Spaniard missed the opening Grand Prix because of concussion sustained in a testing crash, and though he is desperate to get back into his McLaren cockpit, he must first satisfy the authorities he is fit. As well as passing a computerised reaction test, Alonso must also beat the clock in the "extrication test", leaping from his car in under five seconds. Only then will the double world champion pass muster for Malaysia.

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