The Star Late Edition

Hamilton wants new contract


SEVEN-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton hopes to agree a new contract with Mercedes before the sport’s August break.

The 36-year-old Briton is out of contract at the end of this season, after his latest one-year extension was announced only in February, but has said he plans to continue.

“We never want to be in the position that we were in, in January, in February. It ruined my whole winter, and I’m sure it wasn’t helpful for Toto’s,” said the championsh­ip leader, referring to team boss Toto Wolff.

“Naturally we don’t have to rush anything, but I think we have to be sensible and start conversati­ons,” he added after winning Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

“They’re very complex, it’s never a super simple procedure, and so hopefully soon, we can start, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the actual job. We still have 19 races to do, but it would be great to get something in place before the break.”

Formula One has its European summer break between the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest on August 1 and the Belgian race at

Spa-Francorcha­mps on August 29.

Wolff said on May 1 that he hoped to start contract talks soon after Hamilton, 14 points clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, signalled he was keen to continue racing.

Meanwhile, Red Bull need Sergio Perez much closer to the front to put pressure on Mercedes and help Verstappen in his title battle with Hamilton, team boss Christian Horner said after the Spanish Grand Prix.

Mexican Perez started in eighth place, after suffering shoulder pain in qualifying, and finished fifth at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya – more than a minute behind Mercedes’ winner Hamilton.

Hamilton and Verstappen were so far ahead of the rest that the decisive strategy of a second pit-stop and fresh tyres opened up for the Mercedes driver as he chased his Red Bull rival.

“We desperatel­y need him (Perez) to be in that gap so that Mercedes don’t have the strategic options that they had,” said Horner.

“I’m convinced that that will come for Checo (Perez) as he finds more confidence and time in the car.”

Perez, a race winner with Racing Point (now Aston Martin) last season, was signed as an experience­d driver to bring extra firepower to Red Bull’s arsenal as they mount a serious championsh­ip challenge.

Verstappen’s most recent teammates had failed to perform on the Dutch driver’s level, leaving him exposed to rivals’ strategy even when leading.

Perez has said he needs time to feel fully comfortabl­e in the car, however.

“I’m getting more confident with the car now, and every time I get to the end of a weekend, I think, ‘I wish the weekend was just starting now’,” he said on Sunday.

“Also every circuit is different so what I learn here will be different to what I need in Monaco, but the main thing is that I am still adapting, and hopefully soon we can be 100%.”

Monaco, where grid position is of crucial importance on a tight and twisty street circuit with little overtaking, is the next race up on May 23.

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