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Wolff: Mercedes' difficult start to 2018 is impacting Hamilton contract talks

Written by  May 03, 2018

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has indicated that the team's troubled start to the 2018 season has had some bearing on talks regarding Lewis Hamilton's new contract.

The world champion is in the final year of his current deal with the German manufacturer and despite regular comments for months now that an extension is merely a formality, it does remain unsigned.

In Baku, Hamilton ended what was his longest winless streak in the hybrid era at six races, inheriting the victory from Valtteri Bottas after the Finn suffered a late tyre failure, but with main rival Ferrari still looking like the current pacesetters, Wolff admits 2019 has gone onto the backburner.

“We are very well aligned in what we expect from each other in the future," the Austrian insisted as he was quoted by F1i.com. "It’s just finding the time to sit down.”

Asked about the situation in Azerbaijan, the Briton himself added: “I’m fully committed to Mercedes, I have every plan to be with the team for the future.

“It’s not a rushed thing. I’ve made it very, very clear and they made it very clear that they want to continue, so it’s quite an easy thing."

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Some have always wondered if the length of Hamilton's stay at Mercedes would be dictated by how long their dominance lasted but, after the last race, the 33-year-old does appear motivated to overcome the current dip.

"We’ve just got to refine it a little bit and make it a little bit easier to drive," he said. "She [the car] definitely isn’t as easy to drive as it was last year. So yeah, that’s what we’re going to continue to work to.

"Kimi [Raikkonen] was nearly on pole, two-tenths ahead of Sebastian [Vettel], their pure pace is a lot ahead of ours at the moment.

"Then, within the race, I’m sure Sebastian was managing but I’m sure their pace also in the race is a little bit up on ours.

"We definitely are there in the mix and we’ve not got a terrible car at all, by any means."

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