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Hamilton says he will extend Mercedes deal this year

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Hamilton says he will extend Mercedes deal this year

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By Alan Baldwin MONZA, Italy (Reuters) – Lewis Hamilton says he has his Formula One future mapped out and will sign a contract extension with Mercedes later this year. The triple world champion’s current deal runs out at the end of 2018. Speaking to reporters at the Italian Grand Prix on Thursday, the Briton acknowledged that title rival Sebastian Vettel’s decision to stay at Ferrari until 2020 had clarified the situation. “I don’t know if everyone expected him to sign a three-year deal,” he said. “But it doesn’t really change much for me to be honest because I plan to extend with the team, which we will do at some point in the second half of the season or towards the end of the year. “I know (team boss) Toto (Wolff) said that we will wait until the end of the season because that is what I like to do. There is no rush, and I still have another year, so we still have a lot of time,” he added. Hamilton, who joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, is seven points behind Vettel in the current championship and will take the lead if he wins at Monza on Sunday in front of Ferrari’s home crowd. Vettel had been linked to Mercedes in media speculation, and the team’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said last weekend there had been some contact as the German considered his options. Wolff has denied there were any contract conversations with Vettel, a four-times world champion, and Hamilton said he had no doubt that the team was fully behind him. “I am made aware of who contacts the team, and that is down to a really great relationship I have with Toto,” said the driver. “He is very open with me about who calls and it is kind of interesting sometimes to hear who calls and who is trying to either take my seat, or take the seat next door to me.” Hamilton, who has been talked of as a future Ferrari driver and is often asked by Italian fans when he is joining them, said he had not approached any rival team and had no plans to do so. “It’s good for Sebastian that he has signed (at Ferrari)… in the plan that I have coming up, in my five or six years that I have left in the sport, that piece of the puzzle is now in place,” he said. “So it makes my decision moving forwards a lot easier.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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