Lewis Hamilton expects to agree new Mercedes deal in next month
Hamilton set for bumper new deal after winning fourth world championship; Present contract expires at end of 2018
Lewis Hamilton expects to sign a contract extension with Mercedes in the next month.
The Briton wrapped up his fourth world championship, and third with Mercedes, on Sunday and is set to be rewarded with a bumper new deal.
Hamilton's present three-year contract expires at the end of next season and he has previously said he will only remain in Formula 1 for as long as he is enjoying it.
But Hamilton's love for racing has never been stronger after coming out on top in a fresh title battle against Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel and the 32-year-old is expecting straightforward negotiations.
"It is quite an easy process for us," Hamilton said. "We already have something in place and it's really just about extending it and enhancing it, working on what more I can do for them, for the sponsors, the brand and vice versa.
"But I'm pretty sure within the next month or so we will have had time to have sat down.
"Now all the pressure is off, we can go and enjoy these next couple of races."
Hamilton's new deal is anticipated to be another three-year contract with a salary that reports suggest could be the biggest ever in British sport at £40m a year.
Twelve months ago Hamilton's former team-mate Nico Rosberg retired immediately after winning the championship but the Briton immediately set his sights on a fifth title in Mexico.
"Four is a great number but I want number five," he said.
"I could do the easy thing like obviously Nico [Rosberg] did which is just stop and retreat with these four titles, but I think there's more in me, I think there's more to come, more of a challenge, as there are harder times ahead. I like that, I love that, that's challenging."
Hamilton added to Sky F1's Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle and Damon Hill: "I'm enjoying driving more than ever. Whether it's a few [years], a couple, or one, I'm still going to be here next year and I hope for a little time beyond that.
"There is a long life after Formula 1 and I don't want to make it any longer than it's going to have to be because this is the best period of time in my life.
"There are still great things beyond my Formula 1 career which I'm working on right now but I'm enjoying driving more than ever."
How could deal affect 2019 driver market?
While three teams - Williams, Toro Rosso and Sauber - have yet to confirm their 2018 driver line-ups, focus has already turned to what could be major changes for the 2019 season.
Hamilton's expected extension is likely to take him to the end of 2020, matching deals signed by Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen this year.
But Verstappen and Vettel are the only two drivers publicly confirmed in seats beyond next season.
With three of the grid's leading drivers tied down, the question is who will partner them in 2019?
While Red Bull have made clear they want to tie Daniel Ricciardo down to a similar deal to Verstappen, Ricciardo has so far been non-committal and heavily linked with moves to Mercedes or Ferrari.
"I think he's got to leave Red Bull," Sky F1's Martin Brundle said in Mexico. "With Verstappen in the ascendency and de facto No 1 there, I think Daniel needs to be signing for Mercedes or Ferrari if he can in 2019."
Both Hamilton and Vettel suggested at the Mexican GP that they would be open to partnering the Australian.