LONDON (Reuters) - Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton is hoping to have his future sorted by Christmas now that the Formula One season is over.
The most successful driver in the history of the sport and his Mercedes team, winner of both titles for an unprecedented seventh year in succession, still have to sit down and put pen to paper.
Hamilton is otherwise out of contract in a few weeks’ time.
The issue, even if it looks a foregone conclusion, is the biggest question of several remaining to be answered around the paddock.
“I plan to be here next year. I want to be here next year,” said Hamilton, 35, after finishing third in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi finale.
“Us, as a team, have more to do together and more to achieve both in the sport but even more outside the sport I think. I hope we can begin discussions this week and hopefully get it tied up before Christmas.”
The Briton had put off talks while he focused on the championship and then COVID-19 got in the way, with Hamilton testing positive in Bahrain and going into 10 days of quarantine.
Team boss Toto Wolff said there was no concern.
“It is going to happen. There is no reason it shouldn’t happen now,” he told reporters.
“We’ll have this conversation. We always said that we will do it after the title was won and then the virus delayed us for another 10 days, two weeks and now we just have to sit down, maybe virtually or maybe live.”
Championship runners-up Red Bull must decide who is going to partner Sunday’s race winner Max Verstappen next season with Thai racer Alexander Albon the incumbent but Mexican Sergio Perez in the frame.
Team boss Christian Horner said Albon’s performance in Abu Dhabi was probably his “strongest collective weekend of the season.
“That now gives us a complete set of information to go away and analyse and work out what we are going to do. It’s not going to take too long,” he added.
Williams’s new U.S.-based owners Dorilton Capital have to decide the team’s leadership structure after ending the season under acting principal Simon Roberts.
“We’re working on that right now but I can’t say anything about it this weekend,” Roberts said in Abu Dhabi. “Lots of discussion with Dorilton and when we’re ready we’ll be able to announce how we intend to move forward.”
Ferrari are meanwhile looking for a replacement for CEO Louis Camilleri after he announced his sudden retirement last week for personal reasons.
Haas have private business with Russian driver Nikita Mazepin after condemning the posting of a video on his social media of a female passenger being groped in the back of a car.
“It is still in my pending tray,” said team boss Guenther Steiner.
Formula One, under the new leadership of Stefano Domenicali from January, has also an April 25 slot on the 2021 calendar to fill and no shortage of candidates for a date originally set aside for Vietnam’s now-postponed debut.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge
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