On the eve of his 100th Grand Prix start, Lewis Hamilton has indicated he wants to use the upcoming summer break to settle his Formula 1 future with McLaren, with whom his contract runs out at the end of the current season.
Despite claiming a trio of podiums at the start of the season and an excellent win at the Canadian Grand Prix, Hamilton’s 2012 season with McLaren has been beset by pit stop dramas and poor strategic calls, which culminated in a lowly eighth-placed finish last time out on home soil at the British Grand Prix.
Being out of contract, there had been much speculation that Hamilton was targeting possible moves to Red Bull Racing or Ferrari for the 2013 season and beyond.
The former has since closed off in the wake of Mark Webber’s announcement that he had re-signed with the team for another season, while the latter appears an unlikely prospect with Fernando Alonso remaining on board at Ferrari until the end of the 2016 season. While they might be BFFs today, the pair clashed famously when they were teammates at McLaren in 2007, which culminated in Alonso terminating his agreement with the team after just a single season.
The reports doing the rounds are that some stumbling blocks to Hamilton re-signing with McLaren centre around his base salary (believed to be $20 million per season) and his desire to keep his trophies, something that McLaren has strictly forbidden with all of its drivers.
One concern McLaren faces is the potential loss of its title sponsorship with Vodafone, which has recently embarked on a wave of contract tear-ups with its sponsorship of other sports.
Speaking with Russian reporters during his appearance at last weekend’s street demonstration at Moscow, Hamilton indicated he would want his future sorted in the weeks following the Hungarian Grand Prix, which kicks off a one-month break from racing.
“We haven’t sat down and discussed anything yet but I’m sure over the summer break, when we have the summer break, it would be nice to get something in place,” he said.
“That would be a time when we can be more relaxed and make the most sensible decision for the future.”
when asked about the factors that would influence his decision to stay or go elsewhere, he said: “I’ve been with [McLaren] since I was 13, so it’s 14 years, so it’s much more than these small details [being speculated in the media], it’s a much, much bigger picture.
“There are lots of things to take into account. These people have supported me; these are the people that got me into Formula 1. But, you know, I want to win.
“I’m not that young any more so I want to make sure that whatever I do I make the right decision so I can maximize my career, you know. I just need to make sure that I’m winning. That’s what I exist for, that’s what I train and work for every day.”
Expect an announcement from McLaren by the time the Belgian Grand Prix rolls around in September.