Lewis: What pay for him to stay?
HOT IN CANADA: Second-placed Romain Grosjean (left) of Lotus, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh, winner Lewis Hamilton and third-placed Sergio Perez (Sauber) after the 2012 Canadian F1 GP. Will Hamilton stay with the team? Image: AFP
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
LONDON, England - Lewis Hamilton's driver's contract will need to reflect changes in the global economy if he stays at McLaren beyond 2012, according to McLaren chairman Ron Dennis.
The 2008 Formula 1 World champion who's just won the 2012 Canadian GP is one of the hottest properties on the grid and will be out-of-contract at the end of the year.
Dennis told Sky TV in Montreal: "It's a complex situation. He's on the end of a contract which was signed at a time when the economy was somewhat different and now there has to be a balance between that."
R200M A YEAR?
Asked whether that might mean taking a pay cut, Dennis swerved and replied: "He's very highly paid. He's certainly paid more than I am."
Some British media reports have suggested Hamilton could be in line for a five-year contract worth the equivalent of about R260-million a year; others say the team wants to reduce his wages. McLaren does not divulge its drivers' salaries but reports have put Hamilton's current deal at just less than R200-million a year.
Dennis, the former team principal who has known and backed Hamilton since the driver was a 13-year-old go-karter, hoped the 27-year-old would stay. "You're obviously going to look at what's available... where can he go, he's going to look at that. We're going to look at who's available.
"I hope the fact that he's been part of this team from the beginning of his career will play a significant role in whatever decisions both sides make but it's a little early to be talking about it."
Hamilton's win in Montreal was the 18th of his career but the first of 2012. Nevertheless, thanks to consistent high finishes, he is on top of the Drivers' points table, two clear of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
Top teams with potential vacancies are Ferrari, although that would mean linking up with Alonso again after a fraught time with him at McLaren in 2007, and Mercedes if Michael Schumacher retires - again.
Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber will also be out-of-contract at the end of 2012.