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'I’ll still be here:' Hamilton says Mercedes struggles won't affect contract talks

Lewis Hamilton Lewis Hamilton - The Canadian Press

Whether or not Mercedes continues to struggle this season, Lewis Hamilton says he intends to sign a contract extension with the team.

The seven-time World Drivers' Champion, who is in the final year of his most recent deal with Mercedes, dismissed the notion he could leave the team if their results don't improve 

“It’s ultimately people creating rumours without facts. It’s never helpful," Hamilton said Tuesday, per the F1 website. “I have been [supported by] Mercedes since I was 13. Having the difficult year we had last year, [I’m] still here, and whether or not we have a difficult year this year, I’ll still be here.

“I’m a fighter and we fight as a team. I love the challenge of finding solutions and I still believe I’m able to put the car in places that perhaps others are not able to – and I love that challenge.

“Of course, I wish that we [could] start the season with a great car, but it’s the journey that really counts.”

Watch this weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix LIVE on TSN, and the TSN App, with bonus streams available on TSN+ in a limited-time free preview.

Hamilton placed fifth at the circuit's opening race in Bahrain, behind both Red Bull cars, Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. Teammate George Russell was seventh, behind Canadian Lance Stroll in Aston Martin's other car.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff called for "radical" changes to the team's car after the opening weekend. The struggles in Bahrain came on the heels of the finishing third in the constructor standings last season, 244 points behind Red Bull and 39 points back of Ferrari. 

Hamilton, though, who led the team to constructor titles in eight straight years from 2014-21, said he remains confident his extension will be signed.

“There is no hold up with our contract. I’ve always been very, very relaxed. I don’t feel like I have to get it done right this second,” the 38-year-old said. “I’m in a very fortunate position. It will get done when we’re ready. I have a great relationship with Toto and Mercedes, and we fully support each other.

“I’m really excited for the future together, and I’m really proud of the work that we’re doing on and off the track.”

Hamilton and Mercedes will return to the track this weekend for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.