Lewis Hamilton has continued to pour cold water over speculation linking him to a move away from Mercedes as he continues contract negotiations with the reigning Formula 1 world champions.

At the start of the winter break, rumours swirled linking the six-time F1 world champion to a dramatic switch to Ferrari in what would be expected to be his final long-term driver contract in the sport before retiring.

The 35-year-old has spoken about his great admiration for the iconic Italian team but having held informal talks with Ferrari it appears Hamilton is opting to stay put with Mercedes.

In combination with the recent respective contract renewals for Charles Lerlerc at Ferrari and Max Verstappen at Red Bull, Hamilton doesn’t anticipate many key changes in the F1 driver market.

“In the top teams there isn’t going to be a lot of movement, most likely. In the ones cascading down I’m not too sure what everyone’s contracts are - but I don’t think there’s going to be a huge amount of movement,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 during the launch of the Mercedes W11.

“I think just get used to what’s similar at the moment. I don’t know what Seb’s [Vettel] plan is for the future.

Hamilton was quick to dismiss any breakdown in talks with Ferrari were due to not getting assurances about being free to do what he wants outside of the sport.

The British driver has launched his own fashion line in partnership with Tommy Hilfiger, helping bring in the designer brand as a Mercedes team sponsor, while he’s also enjoyed a F1-MotoGP swap with Valentino Rossi organised through mutual sponsor Monster Energy.

“It’s not about freedom, it’s about being able to be yourself. People say, ‘you wouldn’t be able to get the freedom here and there’, but I wouldn’t go anywhere where I would be able to be myself,” he said.

“When I joined this team, Mercedes embraced that and Toto [Wolff, team boss] could see this is the way I am.

“We have the biggest sponsors, we’ve been winning the most championships and we’ve won the most races. I don’t think there’s a single bad thing about it.

“It’s a real privilege to be wanted to stay and be part of a great team. That’s a great feeling. I hope I can continue to contribute.”

At Mercedes’ livery launch earlier this week, Wolff confirmed contract negotiations would commence at the start of the upcoming season. Hamilton’s existing Mercedes deal expires at the end of this season and the reigning F1 world champion has already hinted his next multi-year contract could be his last in the sport.

 

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