MOTOR RACING-Hamilton close to a new deal with Mercedes

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MONTE CARLO, CMC – Lewis Hamilton said he is expected to sign a new deal with Mercedes, squashing rumors that he was considering moving to rival Ferrari.

The British race car driver with Grenadian heritage is in the final year of his latest Mercedes agreement, penned two years ago, with rumors ahead of the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco this coming weekend suggesting that Ferrari was preparing a huge bid to lure him away.

The seven-time world champion said the discussions that began with Mercedes earlier this year remain on track while denying suggestions of any contact between himself and Ferrari.

“I think naturally, when you’re in contract negotiations, there’s always going to be speculation,” Hamilton said. “Unless you hear it from me, that’s what it is.

“My team is working closely behind the scenes with [Mercedes team principal] Toto [Wolff]; we’re almost at the end of having the contract ready.

“Having the team focus on that, so I can just do my job, is a much better position than I was in before. I remember I used to do all the negotiations on my own, and it was very stressful, so I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Looking ahead to this weekend’s racing, Hamilton said he was looking forward to what difference an upgrade to his Silver Arrow, which features revised side pods, will make on the track.

“It will be difficult to see just how it works at this kind of track, but I’m hopeful that it puts us closer to these guys,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think we’ll be fighting for a win necessarily, but hopefully, we’ll be more in the fight.”

Mercedes head into the Monte Carlo event sitting third in the constructors’ standings between second-placed Aston Martin and fourth-placed Ferrari. At the same time, Hamilton and teammate George Russell hold fourth and sixth in the driver’s battle.

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