With Lewis Hamilton now a double world champion, Mercedes has vowed to waste no time in signing him up for the future.
Officials for the German team on Sunday insisted that, with the British driver and Nico Rosberg finishing first and second in 2014, their rivalry will be back on track in silver cars next season.
Beyond 2015, however, is less clear, even though German Rosberg is already signed up.
Hamilton only has a deal until the end of 2015, meaning the former McLaren driver may be looking for yet another challenge in 2016 and beyond.
“I definitely don’t feel that I’m looking for a new challenge,” he insisted after winning his second drivers’ title in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
“I feel like this is just the beginning.”
Before the final race weekend of the season, team boss Toto Wolff has been saying he and chairman Niki Lauda will sit down with Hamilton to discuss the terms of a 2016 contract as soon as Monday or Tuesday this week.
Indeed, Wolff joked late on Sunday that those talks may kick off while Hamilton is still suffering from Sunday’s “hangover”.
Hamilton himself, however, appears in less of a hurry.
“We still have another year to go,” he said, “so there’s no particular rush but this is my home. I feel very happy here.”
It appears obvious that Hamilton and Mercedes want to stick together beyond 2015. “We will clarify this in the next few weeks,” team chairman Niki Lauda told German television on Sunday.
“He is happy, we are happy — I don’t see any problems.”
Agreement on the actual terms of the contract, however, may be more difficult, particularly as the new two-time world champion is now being hailed as one of F1’s all-time greats.
“Lewis feels at home with the team,” said Wolff, “and we have the fastest car on the grid. So 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, as he is an important part of this story.”
© RIF | GMM