Reigning Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says he is close to finalising a contract extension with Mercedes, and hopes to have a deal in place for the start of the 2018 season. 

Hamilton is entering the final year of his Mercedes contract, but has continued to stress his commitment to the team and desire to extend his spell at the Brackley-based outfit beyond the end of the upcoming campaign. 

Speaking at the launch of the new Petronas Global Research Centre in Turin, the Briton revealed he wants to seal a new deal before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 25. 

When asked if an announcement was likely in the build up to the first race of 2018 in Melbourne, he replied: “I hope so but if not don’t worry, it will happen. Obviously we have this year to focus on but it will for sure happen.”

Hamilton, who heads into 2018 aiming to claim a fifth drivers world championship title - and his fourth with Mercedes in six years - added he is relaxed about the situation. 

“We are continuing to talk. It’s quite a relaxed atmosphere for us because Mercedes knows I’m committed to them and they’ve expressed that they are committed to me so both Toto [Wolff] and I sit here quite relaxed. 

“It’s just about constantly trying to find common grounds and ultimately with contracts you always want to work on how you can be better and provide a better service and vice versa, how you can extract more from each other. So that’s really what we are just working on.”

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