Mercedes has announced that four-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has signed a new, two-year contract to remain with the team, putting an end to speculation about his future in the sport.

Hamilton's new contract sees him remain with the team he has won three of his four world championship titles with, as well as a staggering 44 victories since joining the German manufacturer from McLaren in 2013.   

The extended deal - which ends one of the long-running stories of this season - is thought to have been agreed in principle weeks ago, but required sign off from the Daimler board and maintains Hamilton as one of the highest paid drivers in F1 and the highest paid British sportsman. 

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"This contract extension has basically been a formality since Toto [Wolff] and I sat down during the winter, so it's good to put pen to paper, announce it and then get on with business as usual," Hamilton said. 

"I have been part of the Mercedes racing family for 20 years and I have never been happier inside a team than I am right now. We are on the same wavelength both on and off track - and I am looking forward to winning more in the future and shining even more light on the three-pointed star. I'm very confident that Mercedes is the right place to be over the coming years.

"Although we have enjoyed so much success together since 2013, Mercedes is hungrier than ever - from Dr Zetsche and the board members at the top of Daimler, through Toto and the team management, to every single person I meet in the corridors of Brixworth and Brackley," he added. 

"The competitive passion that burns bright inside me is shared by every single member of this group - always chasing the next improvement and digging even deeper to make sure we come out on top. I can't wait to see what we can achieve together in the next two-and-a-half seasons."

Hamilton, whose relationship with Mercedes stretches back as far as 1998 when he was signed to McLaren’s young driver programme by Ron Dennis, is the third driver confirmed on the grid for 2019 along with Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Max Verstappen committed to Red Bull.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: "We have been aligned with Lewis ever since we first sat down to discuss the details of this contract after last season, but there has understandably been a lot of interest and speculation around the whole process, so it's good to put all of that to rest and get this thing announced.

"We signed the final documents this week and didn't want to keep people waiting any longer! There is not much about Lewis as a Formula 1 driver that hasn't been said already - he is one of the all-time greats and his track record speaks for itself.

"But what I enjoy most about working with him is getting to know the man inside the racing helmet: his relentless drive for self-improvement, his emotional intelligence as a team member and his loyalty to those around him.

"Mercedes has become Lewis' home in Formula One and his story is linked forever with the silver and green of Mercedes-AMG Petronas. I am very confident that we have some incredible chapters of our story together still to come."

The deal is likely to trigger further announcements, including Daniel Ricciardo remaining alongside Verstappen at Red Bull. Ricciardo’s talks with the Milton Keynes-based squad were delayed while the team negotiated a new engine partnership with Honda and the Australian assessed his future options. 

But the Mercedes door now appears to be firmly closed with the team expected to retain Valtteri Bottas alongside Hamilton for a third straight season. 

Hamilton currently sits eight points adrift of championship leader Vettel heading into this weekend's German Grand Prix. 

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