Lewis Hamilton thinks talks about his next Mercedes contract will be "easy". Earlier, although the Briton had hinted he wanted to stay a further three years after 2018, team chiefs said Hamilton should instead concentrate on the 2017 title battle.
So with his fourth championship now in his pocket, the 32-year-old again appears keen to talk. "Already a few weeks ago we were sitting in the factory and talking about it for the first time," Hamilton said. "It should be an easy conversation."
Germany's Bild newspaper thinks Hamilton currently earns EUR 35 million a year, and expects that number to rise from 2019. Indeed, even the Ferrari-partisan Italian press admits that Hamilton is now one of F1's true greats.
"He fully deserves his fourth title," said La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He is comparable to Mansell in speed, to Senna in overtaking, and to Prost and Lauda in his ability to master a race."
The British press is speculating that Hamilton could be knighted in the next round of New Year Honours. Hamilton told The Sun: "I am trying to represent the country in the best way I can and if that is recognised by the Queen then I'd be incredibly honoured."
But even if he does race into 2018 as a 'Sir', Hamilton is expecting an even tougher battle to keep his F1 crown. "Formula one doesn't sleep, it doesn't stand still," he said. "Red Bull have a potential world champion in Max Verstappen and he is only going to get stronger with age." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing