Formula One: Hamilton 'in no rush' to open fresh contract talks with McLaren
Lewis Hamilton has warned McLaren he expects them to provide a car capable of challenging for the drivers' title next season, after admitting he is in no hurry to open talks over a new contract.
Hamilton, whose present deal expires at the end of next year, has endured, by his own admission, his most difficult season in Formula 1 to date.
Asked what would constitute a positive year in 2012, Hamilton said he wanted to get the most out of himself and the car, something his team-mate Jenson Button has managed to do more consistently this year.
He conceded that it would be really great for British race fans to see him and Button fight for the title. "It would be and we need to just get there, we need a car to be able to do that," he said.
"There are decisions and directions and avenues the team need to go down to make sure they give us the opportunity to be able to do that. When the opportunity is there we will grab it with both hands."
He said a few weeks ago that he felt as if he had "fallen off a steep cliff" this year, suffering numerous collisions as off-track distractions got on top of him.
While Hamilton insists he feels "in a positive place" with McLaren, the fact he has allowed his contract to run into its final year will inevitably lead to speculation over his future, particularly if the team have as difficult a winter of testing as they did this year.
The Briton set tongues wagging in mid-season with an impromptu visit to Red Bull's motorhome in Montreal, rare at the best of times but in the midst of a personal crisis almost certainly a pointed message to McLaren.
A tie-up with Red Bull's two-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in 2013 would certainly electrify the sport, as would a reunification with former McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.
Asked specifically about his contract, Hamilton, who has been on McLaren's books since the age of 13, insisted: "I am in no rush. I don't think there is any real pressure about my commitment to the team so there is no rush to have to do anything. Just focus on the next stage.
"Martin (Whitmarsh, McLaren's team principal) has spoken to me about re-signing already.
"I know it is there. At some stage, when we have time, we will sit down and discuss it. Again, the most important thing is to focus on the season ahead.
"I feel positive about it. I feel fortunate to be in the position I am in.
"I still feel very, very fortunate about the opportunities I have ahead of me and I feel fortunate I have still got a year left on my contract.
"I have got a winter to recover and a year to recover. Have a positive year. I will look back on this year and, of course, it wasn't the year that was wanted but it was a year that was needed, that every athlete goes through.
"I just hope this is the end of it. I am looking forward to going into the winter, to take my time to recover and channel all my energy into next year.
"What is most important about next year is me getting back to where I should be, getting back to the good performances and getting back to winning.
"Getting back to enjoying life and enjoying the year.
"It is getting better and I just want to continue on this path because I think it can be good." (© Daily Telegraph, London)