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McLaren: Hamilton speculation not a distraction 06 Sep 2012

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 (L to R): Sam Michael (AUS) McLaren Sporting Director and Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren after the crash at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 2 September 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012

McLaren have insisted that intense media speculation over Lewis Hamilton’s future with the team will not distract them from the task in hand at Monza this weekend, as they chase their third win in three races.

Hamilton’s current contract with the Woking squad expires at the end of 2012 and the press has repeatedly linked him with a move to Mercedes for next season, supposedly to replace Michael Schumacher. However, McLaren sporting director Sam Michael says talks are on-going.

“I think the first thing to say is that we are in an advanced stage of negotiation with Lewis over any contract,” he told a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “Until those negotiations are completed there is nothing definitive to say about it from McLaren.”

The heightened press interest in Hamilton follows what has been an eventful few days for the former champion. He made the wrong set-up call in Belgium ahead of qualifying, which saw team mate Jenson Button take pole, and then failed to score after being hit by Lotus’s Romain Grosjean on the opening lap.

That saw his advantage over Button in the drivers' championship cut to just 16 points, with the pair currently fifth and sixth respectively. But despite this, Michael is sure Hamilton will remain focussed purely on his driving over the next three days.

“I think from the point of distraction, it doesn’t really happen. We are here, Lewis is here, getting prepared for Monza and his goal is to be here at the Italian Grand Prix and win. We are all geared up as a team to do that anyway. I think it’s very independent of his contractual negotiations because contractual negotiations go on for at least a month anyway. Our focus is on the Grand Prix and so is Lewis’s.”

Hamilton finished fourth at Monza last year. His best Formula One result at the circuit was in 2007 when he came second behind then McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso.

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