Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton put the brakes on contract talks to focus on title battle

The fight for the championship reached new levels of intensity – and acrimony – during the Belgian GP after a collision between the Briton and his team-mate Nico Rosberg

formula one correspondent

As the summer movements in the driver market revolve around McLaren’s efforts to attract either Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel into the Woking fold, Mercedes bosses have confirmed that they will not enter into any talks with Lewis Hamilton about a new contract for 2016 until his increasingly fraught battle for the 2014 World Championship has been resolved.

The team’s chief, Toto Wolff, confirmed after the British Grand Prix in July that team-mate and rival Nico Rosberg had concluded a deal that will take him to 2016 as his contract was extended. But neither Wolff nor Hamilton believe it necessary right now to take their focus off the title fight, which reached new levels of intensity – and acrimony – after the collision between the two Mercedes drivers at Spa-Francorchamps last Sunday.

There is no question that Mercedes are eager to retain Hamilton, despite the open warfare with Rosberg, as they believe that they currently have the strongest driver line-up. But team and driver have also reached an agreement not to enter into any talks with other parties until they have discussed their future together. Non-executive director Niki Lauda vehemently denied rumours in Hungary to the effect that Mercedes were making a play for Vettel, and said: “Absolute bullshit. I can tell you that nobody from this team has spoken with him. Why would we want to do that? We already have the two best drivers in our team. Why would we want to change that?”

Hamilton’s current contract does not expire until the end of 2015, hence both parties deciding to focus on the present rather than on something that will not require serious attention for at least another 12 months.

Toto Wolff insists his team want to keep Lewis Hamilton and that Hamilton wants to stay Toto Wolff insists his team want to keep Lewis Hamilton and that Hamilton wants to stay (EPA)
“We’ve been talking to one another daily,” Wolff confirmed. “But at this stage things are very intense and you have to stay concentrated on the season. One thing is for sure, we are not going to talk to anybody else before having a very clear situation about how we can continue to work with Lewis.

“This is what we have said to each other, that we have no interest in having any other conversation with any other driver. We are not having any, and Lewis is not having any discussion with any other team, so this is why we trust each other. We feel at the moment we need to be concentrated on the championship and not get involved in contractual discussions – intense discussions – because it is something which is one and a half years in front of us.”

Mercedes are holding a family day at their base in Brackley, Northamptonshire, this weekend, that both Hamilton and Rosberg are expected to attend. Wolff, and executive technical director Paddy Lowe, are expected to hold further talks with them on Friday in order to resolve some of the issues which arose between them following the contact on the second lap of the Belgian GP which enabled Rosberg to extend his World Championship points lead over Hamilton to 29.

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s former team-mate Jenson Button is looking increasingly forlorn, having been made well aware that his security at McLaren could depend on Alonso and Vettel deciding to stay where they are. Both have contracts, with Ferrari and Red Bull respectively, that run until the end of 2015, but McLaren are determined to secure one or other of them, if not for next season then for 2016, to spearhead their new challenge with Honda power.

Button wants to continue racing in 2015, but the recent performances of rookie team-mate Kevin Magnussen have presented McLaren with the possible problem of which of them to drop if Alonso or Vettel were to accept their “name your price” offers. Retirement may be looming for the 34-year-old Briton.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam