Lewis Hamilton has revealed that, should he decide to re-sign with the McLaren team when his current contract runs out, he will insist on having less personal appearance commitments written into the deal.
The Briton, who has come under fire for some overly-aggressive driving this season, believes that a heavy workload - a feature of many a McLaren contract over the years - is leading to a drop in his performance level, citing the build-up to his home race, at Silverstone this weekend, as a perfect example. Having struggled to a distant fourth in the European Grand Prix at the end of June, Hamilton was scheduled just a couple of free days, with the rest of his British GP preparation dogged by sponsorship and television commitments that prevented him from resting sufficiently.
"I have come from the last race and have had only a day or two off," he confirmed to members of the media assembled in the McLaren motorhome at Silverstone, "I am certain that, if you look down the paddock, there won't be many other drivers that have done what I have been doing over the last two weeks. I am excited for the [summer] break...."
Merely talking about looking for a revised deal with McLaren is a positive sign for the Woking-based team, for much has been made about Hamilton possibly looking to sever ties with the benefactor that supported him all the way from karting to the top flight. While Hamilton's own comments have veered from leaving to staying and back again, he made a highly conspicuous visit to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner after qualifying for the Canadian GP and talked regularly of wanting a competitive car
Now, however, it appears that the 2008 world champion may be ready to continue his relationship with the team that helped deliver that crown, despite it not yet being a regular match for either Red Bull or, in recent races, a resurgent Ferrari. He will insist, however, on the wording of any contract being different to his current deal.
"You have to make changes," he claimed, "When I re-sign the contract with McLaren, they are going to be shocked at how many days they are not going to be able to make me do. I will be doing a lot less work - and I definitely won't be doing the whole period of time before the Silverstone grand prix, that's for sure. I will have at least five days to prepare in the future."
While Horner has been quick to play down the possibility of Hamilton joining Red Bull - a situation that would put him side-by-side with current world champion Sebastian Vettel in a possible repeat of the acrimonious partnership he endured with Fernando Alonso in 2007 - the 26-year old driver has vowed to make the best of a bad lot in order to entertain his home fans this weekend.
Hamilton qualified only tenth after McLaren erred by giving him worn tyres for his one-and-only run in Q3 - the second being lost to rain - but has said that he will continue to attack on raceday in an effort to move up the order.
"Of course, for the fans and the public here, we would love to be sitting on the front row," he said after McLaren's disappointing Saturday performance left him two seconds off the pace and team-mate Button only five places better off, "That is not the case, so we will pull back, regroup. Obviously, tomorrow, anything can happen with the conditions that have been here today, so who knows? A miracle might happen tomorrow and we might still get our one-two. I don't know about Jenson, but I'm game."