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£5m bid to keep Hamilton at McLaren
25 May 2012
McLaren is hoping that a 33 per cent salary hike will be what it takes to keep Lewis Hamilton at Woking for the foreseeable future, as the two sides continue to explore solutions to their contract negotiations.
Hamilton is approaching the end of his initial five-year deal with the team, which brought him into F1 after ten years of grooming through the junior ranks, but is not certain to put pen to paper when McLaren present a new deal. While his infamous evening visit to Red Bull came during his personal low in 2011, the Briton is still regarded as one of the hottest properties in the top flight and would attract attention from rival operations should he decide to test the market. Mark Webber, Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher could all be on the move at the end of 2013, present opportunities at three of the sport's biggest teams
McLaren, however, is keen to retain its all-British line-up of Hamilton and Jenson Button and the UK's
newspaper is reporting it to be considering an increased pay offer approaching £20m annually in order to keep the 2008 world champion on board. Hamilton's current deal is reckoned to pay him £15m a year, but any new deal would also likely be of shorter duration, with three years the expected duration.
Money, however, is unlikely to be the only aspect up for negotiation, with Hamilton rumoured to be looking for greater freedom to exploit commercial opportunities and a reduction in obligations to McLaren and its sponsors in order to give him more down time between races. The biggest assurance he will seek, however, is that McLaren can provide him with a winning car - something maintaining the sort of advantage that he started 2012 with, but has since seen eroded by the likes of Red Bull and Lotus.
Despite starting the year suggesting that sorting a new deal would be a priority in order to prevent it from hanging over his racing, Hamilton has since said that he is in no rush to finalise a contract, and it is thought that discussions over the small print may drag negotiations on into the second half of the season.
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