Mercedes chief prepared for Lewis Hamilton quitting F1 and ready for 'curveballs' as champion's contract talks linger on

MERCEDES are preparing for "curveballs" as F1 king Lewis Hamilton's future still lies in doubt just two months before the new season.

But team boss Toto Wolff says he is unfazed by Britain's seven-time world champion still not agreeing a new contract.

Hamilton, who was 36 on Thursday, insists he wants to stay with Mercedes, where his deal expired on December 31.

And of the unsettled situation, Wolff told Autosport: "It doesn't worry me at all, because I will always respect Lewis's decisions.

'Whether this is staying with us for a long time, or whether that means leaving the sport and pursuing different interests.

"I think we need to be ready for all kinds of curveballs being thrown at us.

"But at the same time, we talk a lot, and we are very transparent with each other. I think there is more to achieve together."

Hamilton has been very laidback publicly over a new deal, which is expected to be worth £40million a year.

At first he suggested it might be tone deaf to talk money while people are losing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

He then insisted he was just focused on retaining the title… but when that was in the bag he still said there was no rush.

Reports in Italy suggested there were three sticking points over a new contract: salary, plus Hamilton wanting a share of the team's prize money and a freebie AMG One hypercar.

 In contrast, Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas sorted out an £8m one-year contract last August.

And as they wait for Hamilton's future to be decided, Mercedes will continue developing this year's car based on the assumption he will be driving it.

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