F1: Hamilton hints at new deal with McLaren as ‘love affair’ continues
LEWIS Hamilton has indicated he will almost certainly sign a new deal with McLaren next year to continue what Martin Whitmarsh has described as his "love affair" with the team.
A troubled 2011 finally came to an end for Hamilton yesterday in the kind of circumstances that were perhaps to be expected as he suffered the first mechanical retirement of the season.
Hamilton's Brazilian Grand Prix ended on lap 46 with a gearbox failure on his McLaren just as he was about to become embroiled in another battle with nemesis-for-the-year Felipe Massa.
Despite the kind of problem that would have seen him wear a long face just a month ago when he was at his lowest ebb, Hamilton departed Interlagos in an upbeat mood.
The 26-year-old has already started turning his thoughts to a more positive 2012 when his future is likely to be the subject of great debate given his current deal expires at the end.
Hamilton, though, sees no reason why he will not remain at McLaren even though it is highly likely seats at Ferrari and Red Bull will also be available in 2013.
Speaking to Press Association Sport, Hamilton said: "What is most important for me next year is getting back to where I should be - to the good performances, to winning, to enjoying life, enjoying the year.
"I'm at a positive place within myself. Things are getting better, and I just want to continue on this path because it would be good.
"I don't think there's any question of my commitment to the team, so there's no real rush to have to do anything. I'll just focus on the year."
Asked if he felt it was more than likely he would stay, Hamilton said: "Yeah, I do. I'm confident about that.
"Martin has already spoken to me about re-signing, so I know it's there at some point, and I guess at some stage when we have time we'll sit down (to discuss it further).
"But the most important thing is to focus on the season ahead."
As Hamilton has been with the team since he was 13, team principal Whitmarsh feels it is hard to see him going anywhere else.
"By his extraordinarily high standards he has had a difficult year, but he's in a positive place right now," Whitmarsh told Press Association Sport.
"There is a deep affection between him and the team and I'm sure that love affair will carry on for many years to come."
There was a point just over a month ago when Hamilton was in such a despondent mood you wonder whether he contemplated walking away.
Whitmarsh had no such concerns, adding: "He's a racer so I didn't worry about