Hamilton turns down approach to ink Mercedes mega-deal

Four-times Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton ended months of speculation about his future on Thursday by signing a new deal keeping him at Mercedes until the end of 2020, revealing there was interest for his services from another team.

No financial details were given but British media reports suggested the deal could be worth up to $60 million a year, with a basic of $52-million with an extra $8-miillion in potential bonuses which has made him Formula 1’s top earner and up there with the biggest annual salaries in sport.

The 33-year-old Briton would have been out of contract at the end of the season and the protracted negotiations have been an ongoing saga.

Hamilton also admitted to reporters at Hockenheim that another, unnamed, team had made an approach to which he “didn’t give any air” and when asked if it was Ferrari he replied, “You can make whatever assumption you want.”

The Mercedes deal, finally signed this week according to team boss Toto Wolff in a statement, means the top three teams now have a leading driver under contract for the next two years.

There was no mention of Hamilton’s current teammate Valtteri Bottas, whose place has yet to be confirmed, but the Finn told reporters separately that talks were moving forward and he expected some good news soon.

Hamilton, who conducted his own negotiations, explained, “We started with the discussions at the beginning of the year, and then a few months later, and for a couple of days. Then I put it off as it was too stressful. I just kept delaying it. I had a contract in place so I didn’t feel like I had to rush.”

Hamilton has been part of the Mercedes “family” since he was in karting and secured backing from the German manufacturer and McLaren, “I have never been happier inside a team than I am right now. I’m very confident that Mercedes is the right place to be over the coming years.”

Mercedes have won both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles for the past four years but, despite having the hottest seats in the sport, there had been lingering doubts about Hamilton’s intentions.

Former teammate Nico Rosberg stunned the team in 2016 when he won the title and then announced his retirement only days later.

Hamilton, who won his first title with McLaren in 2008, enjoys a celebrity lifestyle with plenty of interests — mainly in music and fashion — outside of Formula 1.

He acknowledged as much when asked whether the new contract would be his last, “Maybe in two years my life will be completely different and I will want completely different things to what I want now so I couldn’t tell you.”

“I still feel pretty great. I wasn’t expecting to feel as excited as I am now in this signing to extend,” said the man who has won 65 grands prix and taken a record 76 career pole positions from 218 races.

Hamilton is eight points adrift of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, also a four-time world champion, at the halfway point in the season.

The German greeted the news that Hamilton would remain a rival for two more years with some indifference, “Well, congrats. I don’t know why it took so long. I think it was pretty clear. I have my place and my mission and what I want to achieve and in all honesty, that’s all that matters.”