Formula 1: Jenson Button puts brakes on Lewis Hamilton speculation
JENSON BUTTON believes Lewis Hamilton will remain with McLaren, although his team-mate today refused to offer any indication over his future.
Hamilton was given the opportunity to clear the air as to which team he will be driving for from next year onwards.
Speculation surfaced yesterday linking Hamilton to Mercedes, although this was denied by his management team, XIX Entertainment.
XIX claim Hamilton and McLaren are in “advanced negotiations”, although are naturally refusing to put all their eggs in one basket so are paying lip-service to potential suitors.
Hamilton, however, was giving nothing away because, pointedly asked whether he knew where he would be driving next year, the 27-year-old stoically replied: “No.” Questioned as to what the attraction would be in driving for Mercedes, Hamilton said: “I have no idea. I’ve not really thought about it.”
Put to Hamilton McLaren have won the last two races and Mercedes have won just once in the last three years, that clearly did not resonate with the Briton.
“I don’t think I’m really looking for anything to be put into perspective,” said Hamilton. “I drive for McLaren, we’ve won the last two races, we’ve got another great weekend, hopefully, ahead of us and that’s what we’ve got to focus on.”
Hamilton further insisted there was no deadline as to when he must make a decision, adding: “Obviously before next season I think would be useful!”
Stating last week he needed to be business-like in his approach to negotiations, that suggested money, potentially through image rights and personal sponsorship deals, was now paramount. So asked whether it was about money or other factors, a terse Hamilton said: “I want to win. I always want to win.
“Every year you compete, that’s why us drivers exist and that’s why the teams exist. It’s just making sure you’re in the right place to do so.”
Button believes that place will be McLaren, despite the fact he has been with the Woking-based marque since he was 13 and there is the possibility he needs a change of scene. The 32-year-old conceded “surprise” upon reading the remarks of former team principal Eddie Jordan, who said Hamilton had already agreed personal terms with Mercedes and a deal was imminent.
Despite that Button added: “I haven’t a clue if there’s any truth in it at all, but I think I’ll have the same team-mate next year.”
In giving his reasons why, he added: “That’s because this is the best choice for him.
“For all of us it can get a bit stale if you’re in the same place for too long, but not here.
“This is a great team which is always giving us the opportunity to fight for wins.
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn is adamant the German giants are still negotiating with Michael Schumacher as to whether the seven-times champion will stay on for another year. Brawn insists any decision on their second driver for next season is “still some way off”, and whilst acknowledging Hamilton is “an excellent driver”, he feels Schumacher still “has a huge amount to offer”.
Brawn, though, refused to state – when asked twice – he wanted Schumacher to stay, adding: “We’ve not stated who our driver will be, and I’m not going to do that now.”
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