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McLaren would welcome back Lewis Hamilton if Mercedes deal ends

The Guardian logo The Guardian 8/2/2018 Giles Richards
Lewis Hamilton celebrates in Mexico after sealing his fourth title, his third with Mercedes, for whom he is yet to sign a new deal. © EPA Lewis Hamilton celebrates in Mexico after sealing his fourth title, his third with Mercedes, for whom he is yet to sign a new deal.

Lewis Hamilton could have his pick of the teams in Formula One should he not renew his contract with Mercedes, the McLaren executive director, Zak Brown, has said. The British driver secured his fourth world championship last season, his third with Mercedes, but his contract with the team ends after this campaign and he has yet to confirm a new deal.

Hamilton made his F1 debut for McLaren in 2007, won his first title with them a year later and drove for the team for six seasons before joining Mercedes in 2013.

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“Lewis has history here,” Brown said. “He is an unbelievable driver. There isn’t a team in the pit lane that would not be interested in having Lewis drive for them, us included.”

Hamilton, Brown believed, is at the peak of his powers. “It would be great for any team,” he said.

Brown acknowledged that McLaren, expecting an improvement in performance this season after ditching Honda for Renault engines, would welcome him back. “We are very happy with the drivers we have but you never know in F1. If something happened to take one or two of those out of play, then of course someone like Lewis.”

The McLaren executive director, Zak Brown, said Lewis Hamilton ‘would be great for my team’.Photograph: John Raoux/AP

McLaren’s lead driver, Fernando Alonso, raced alongside Hamilton for the team in 2007 but the Spaniard was not happy with the situation and left at the end of that season. Alonso has since been open in his praise for the British driver and Brown believes the pair could work together again.

“Fernando would race anybody,” he said. “I have never had a conversation with Fernando about anything other than himself. Fernando would have anyone as his team-mate.”

Brown also praised the Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff’s handling of his driver. “Great world champions are hard to manage,” he said. “You need to get them in a good frame of mind and Lewis seems to be someone you have to manage in the right way, but Toto has done a good job in getting him to perform.”

Wolff, however, has made it clear he expects Hamilton to remain with Mercedes. “Lewis has become such an important pillar within the team that it is a no-brainer we continue with each other. The discussions are ongoing in a very positive mindset and it’s just a matter of time until we seal it and put a signature to the document.”

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