Lewis Hamilton set to be talk of Monza at the Italian Grand Prix amid Mercedes rumours


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The Independent Online

All eyes will be on Lewis Hamilton when he walks into the Monza paddock today as speculation intensifies regarding his future.

Hamilton departed Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday as one of the main talking points in light of the furore surrounding his tweeting, notably a picture of sensitive telemetry data ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix.

A first-corner smash that wiped out four cars went on to damage his Formula One title chances and merely added to his weekend woes.

It left Hamilton insisting earlier this week that the events at Spa were firmly behind him and his focus would be "on driving as fast as possible this weekend" in the Italian Grand Prix.

That focus may now be diverted as Hamilton is certain to face a barrage of questions from the media after Eddie Jordan threw the cat among the pigeons yesterday.

The former team boss and BBC F1 analyst claimed "Hamilton and Mercedes have already agreed personal terms and a deal could be imminent".

Hamilton's future has long been the subject of speculation given he is out of contract with the Woking-based marque at the end of this season.

In response, however, McLaren issued a cleverly-worded but unequivocal statement, passing the buck on to XIX Entertainment who look after the 27-year-old's business interests.

"We have been told by Lewis Hamilton's management team the story is untrue," a McLaren spokesperson told Press Association Sport.

In addition, a spokesperson for XIX has insisted Hamilton is more on the brink of re-signing with McLaren than moving elsewhere.

The spokesperson told Press Association Sport: "As mentioned in the past by all parties, we are in advanced discussions with McLaren about a new deal.

"More importantly, at the moment, Lewis is focused on Monza and competing strongly for the championship."

Mercedes, however, refused to add their own line of denial as a spokesperson said: "Until we are in a position to confirm our full driver line-up for next season, it is inevitable there will be speculation around this topic.

"We would ask for your understanding, however, that we do not comment on speculation."

Press Association Sport understands all signs point to Hamilton remaining with McLaren.

There are, however, a number of issues to be resolved, amongst them future image rights and personal sponsorship deals beyond those in-house within the Woking-based team.

It is why Mercedes are not being ruled out at this stage because at the age of 27, any new deal is being viewed by XIX as the most important of Hamilton's career.

The belief is it would be a disservice to any interested parties not to discuss potential options with them, so Mercedes are at least in the background.

But for Hamilton, given his history with McLaren, the loyalty felt on both sides, and providing the finer points of a new contract can be finalised, the indication at this stage is he will stay at Woking.