Motor racing-Wolff 'never a millimetre in doubt' over Hamilton rumours

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Formula One F1 - Monaco Grand Prix - Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco - May 27, 2023 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during qualifying REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

MONACO (Reuters) - Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he never had any concern about media speculation linking Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari because of a long-standing "pact" with the seven-times Formula One world champion.

The Briton will be out of contract at the end of the season but has denied talks with Ferrari and said he is close to signing a new deal with Mercedes, the team he joined from McLaren in 2013.

Ferrari have also said they did not make any approach.

"We are in a super-happy position with Lewis. There weren’t any stumbling blocks in the contract negotiations," Wolff told reporters at the Monaco Grand Prix.

"We have a pact, and we’ve had that since many, many years, that we wouldn’t talk to any other driver before we have taken a decision to stay together or not.

"So I was never a millimetre in doubt that there was any discussion (with Ferrari). Someone just felt to place that, maybe to in a way play a role in what seemed to be a negotiation but it is not negotiating."

Wolff said contract talks with Hamilton, who has a team sorting out the fine details for him, consisted of sitting down together and discussing what needed to be changed from the previous wording.

"The contract was ready in 2013. We’ve never really changed a lot of words in there. The dates, the marketing days...," said the Austrian.

Hamilton has not won a race since 2021, with George Russell a rising talent within the team, but the 38-year-old is Formula One's most successful driver of all time with 103 wins and a profile that transcends the sport.

Formula One's only Black driver, he has been an active campaigner on diversity and human rights as well as pursuing interests in fashion and music.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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