Hamilton joined the German squad in 2013, one year before he won his first championship with them. He added two more in 2015 and 2017, and enters 2018 bidding for his fifth championship title, his fourth with Mercedes.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that the team is close to securing Lewis Hamilton’s future, as it settles “the last topics”. Hamilton’s current deal that he signed in 2015 expires at the end of the season, however it is expected that the Briton will continue with the Silver Arrows.
“We have been discussing going into the winter and we kind of left it there to get away from F1,” said Mercedes’ F1 boss Toto Wolff. “We picked it up again in January and these discussions are going in the right way.
“We are about to finalise the last topics, and there is no reason to think that is not going to happen soon. He’s in a good frame of mind. I’ve seen him coming back strong from the winter,” he added.
At the Australian Grand Prix last week, Hamilton came home in second place, losing out to fellow four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. Vettel won the race after a perfectly timed virtual safety car allowed him to leap Hamilton in the pitstop phase of the race.
After pre-season testing, Mercedes looked once again as the favourites to be the strongest in 2018, with Ferrari and Red Bull behind. But Hamilton says that the pecking order remains relatively unknown, and more will be discovered as the season continues.
“From my experience, you don’t really get a good understanding until after four races,” said Hamilton. “Right now, it’s just the first race – I have no idea. We go to Bahrain and there’s going to be ups and downs.
“Ferrari are really quick on the straights, they are going to be rapid in the next race, and they are always good when it comes to hot circuits. Bahrain, even though it’s a night race, is still tough on the tyres. So I really have no idea – but I can tell you it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to be close.”
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas had a tough weekend in Melbourne, as he crashed out in qualifying and was forced to start from fifteenth. However, Hamilton has backed his fellow Mercedes driver, and expects that he will bounce back strongly next time out.
“It was one against two and it’s not easy to fight against a team that has two cars in the mix compared to one,” said Hamilton. “But I think we’ll work together and Valtteri will be working very hard to make sure he’s in the mix and fighting with us as well.
“He’s going to be fighting for wins this year and it won’t always be as it is [in Australia]. Last year it was important to have both cars up there and now it’s shown that it’s even more important, especially with Red Bull being there and both Ferrari drivers.”