SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton has agreed a deal in principle to remain at Mercedes beyond this season but the Formula One world champion is in no hurry to put pen to paper on a new contract, the Briton told reporters ahead of this week’s Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton moved to Mercedes in 2013 but is out of contract at the end of the season and negotiations to extend his stay with the German team have become protracted with the 30-year-old’s future plans the subject of much discussion around the paddock.
“The situation is not really different from the last time I saw you,” Hamilton said at a chilly Shanghai International Circuit on Thursday when asked about the progress of his contract talks.
“There’s still points to be agreed on, it’s just back and forth.”
Following the Malaysian Grand Prix on March 29, Hamilton told British reporters that a new contract should be finalised within a week.
However, Hamilton, who is negotiating the deal himself, said he had been unable to find time to go through the finer points of a revised deal with the team where he won his second world title.
“The last week I haven’t really been doing too much contract reading,” Hamilton added.
“I don’t really feel particularly rushed. I think we’ve agreed that we want to stay together. I’ve got the rest of the year if I want to take that but obviously we’ll get it done at some stage.”
The Briton, who won his first title with McLaren in 2008, is one of the three highest-paid drivers in the series with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso estimated to be on similar salaries to Hamilton.
Some reports have pegged Hamilton’s new deal at more than $40 million and when asked whether he would like to be the highest-paid Mercedes employee, earning even more than Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche, he said: “I don’t really know what to say to that. Drivers generally do earn more than that.”
Hamilton heads into this weekend’s race at the top of the standings. He won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix but was beaten by Vettel in Malaysia, with the German scoring a shock victory to snap Mercedes’ eight-race winning streak.
Searing track temperatures severely hampered his Mercedes in Malaysia and Hamilton said he was confident of enjoying a better weekend in the cooler conditions in China.
“They were very, very quick, they did a great job,” Hamilton said of Ferrari’s form in Malaysia.
”We could have done a better job in terms of looking after our tires, we could have maybe (gone) even a little bit faster.
“We’re not stressed or anything. We didn’t have the most amazing weekend and I think we’ll be stronger this time.”
Editing by John O'Brien