Lewis Hamilton says he is ‘closer than ever’ to signing a contract extension with Mercedes.
The Briton has been with the German team since 2013 and won his fourth world title – his third with the Silver Arrows – last year.
Hamilton’s current deal expires at the end of the season and talks to extend his stay with the team until 2021 – worth an estimated £120million – have been ongoing since the turn of the year.
‘When it’s done I’ll tell you,’ said Hamilton. ‘It’s going to happen soon. It’s a lot closer than it’s ever been but it’s not like there’s no negotiation or anything like that, that’s all done.’
For now Hamilton’s focus is on regaining the championship advantage from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The German leads by a point going into Sunday’s French Grand Prix, which returns to the calendar after a 10-year absence and kicks-off a run of three races in consecutive weekends for the first time in the sport’s history.
‘I’ve been racing forever so everything becomes the norm,’ said Hamilton at Circuit Paul Ricard.
‘I’m excited about getting in the car to feel a new circuit and a new race that I haven’t done before.
‘I feel very positive. It’s back on the calendar and I want to be the first one to win it.’ Hamilton has not tasted victory since the Spanish Grand Prix in mid-May, finishing behind Vettel in the two races since then in Monaco and Canada.
He cut a frustrated figure after finishing fifth in Montreal – where Vettel made it three wins from seven races this season – but is determined to bounce back here at Le Castellet.
‘Every single person has been critical of themselves including me,’ said Hamilton.
‘We come here determined to do a better job. We all can do better to squeeze more juice out of ourselves and the car.
‘Montreal was a very average weekend performance-wise and we’ve got to make sure we’re in top, top shape moving forward.
‘There were some good meetings afterwards where people were openly critical of themselves.
‘There’s things I know I can do better which I’m planning to do.’
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