'ALL-TIME GREAT': Mercedes team is eager to sign the new F1 champion Lewis Hamilton beyond his 2015 contract. Image: AFP
YAS MARINA, Abu Dhabi - Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton now a double Formula 1 champion, has vowed to waste no time in signing him up for the future.
Officials for the team on Sunday insisted that, with Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finishing first and second in 2014, their rivalry will be back on track in the silver cars in 2015. Beyond that, however, is less clear even though Rosberg is already signed up.
Hamilton's contract runs only until the end of 2015 so he could be looking for another challenge in 2016.
MORE TO COME
He insisted after the season-ending race on Sunday: "I definitely don't feel that I'm looking for a new challenge. I feel like this is just the beginning."
Before the final race weekend of the season team boss Toto Wolff had been saying he and chairman Niki Lauda would sit down with Hamilton as soon as the following Monday or Tuesday to discuss terms for 2016. Indeed, Wolff joked late on Sunday that those talks may kick off while Hamilton was still suffering from Sunday's "hangover".
Hamilton, however, seems to be in less of a hurry. "We still have another year," he said, "so there's no particular rush but this (Mercedes) is my home. I feel very happy here."
TERMS MAY BE DIFFICULT
It's obvious that Hamilton and Mercedes want to stick together beyond 2015. Lauda told German TV: "We will clarify this in the next few weeks. He is happy, we are happy - I don't see any problems."
Agreement on terms of the contract, however, may be more difficult, particularly as the new double champion is now being hailed as one of F1's all-time greats.
Wolff said: "Lewis feels at home with the team and we have the fastest car on the grid. We have some pretty important arguments on our side!
"But of course there is no guarantee that we will come quickly to an agreement. We would definitely love to keep Lewis, he is an important part of this story."