Much-liked Lewis in for long haul
HAMILTON GOES LONG-TERM: Seems Mclaren's Lewis Hamiton will be in the flashlight for a long time with McLaren.
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Lewis Hamilton has given a strong hint that he intends to stay at McLaren - long term.
Britain's 2008 F1 World champion has a contract to the end of 2012 but he told reporters after Sunday's season-ending Brazilian GP that talks were under way to extend that.
"Team boss Martin Whitmarsh has already spoken to me about re-signing, so I know it's there at some point and I'll guess we'll sit down to discuss it," he said.
Did he feel it was more than likely he would stay? "Yeah, I do."
Hamilton's team mate Jenson Button, 2009 champion for Brawn GP, signed a multi-year extension to his contract earlier this year andsaid the deal is unlikely to be his last.
While Button has had a stand-out season, finishing second overall on the drivers' log, Hamilton has been beaten in the overall standings by a team mate for the first time in his motor racing career in a year marked by crashes, controversy and personal pain but Hamilton, winner of three races including the penultimate Abu Dhabi event, has shown signs of being far happier.
"Most important for me in 2012 will be getting back to where I should be, back to the good performance, back to winning, back to enjoying life, and enjoying the year," said the 26-year-old, who made his debut with McLaren in 2007.
"I think I'm there now, it's getting better, I just want to continue on this path because it would be good," he added. "I'm in no rush (to sign a new contract). I don't think there's any question of my commitment to the team so there's no real rush to have to do anything."
Whitmarsh also made clear he expected Hamilton, who has been backed by McLaren since he was a 13-year-old karter, to figure in his plans well beyond 2012.
"There is a deep affection between him and the team and I'm sure that love affair will carry on for many years," he said. "I'm fairly confident we'll find a good way forward (so) that in years to come he's going to be very, very great as a driver and he will win plenty of races for McLaren."
Ferrari, champion Red Bull, and Mercedes could all have vacancies at the end of 2012 year after retaining their current drivers for the coming season.