Hamilton maintains on-track focus

Blackpool Citizen: Speculation is rife over Lewis Hamilton's future Speculation is rife over Lewis Hamilton's future

Lewis Hamilton is determined to focus on rekindling his Formula One championship challenge this weekend in the face of mounting speculation he could end his 14-year association with McLaren and move to Mercedes.

The 27-year-old faced tough questioning after BBC pundit Eddie Jordan claimed on Wednesday Hamilton had agreed terms with Mercedes and a deal was imminent. Hamilton maintains his management team, XIX Entertainment, are "in advanced negotiations with McLaren", but rumours of unrest continue to mount.

Hamilton was asked on Thursday whether he felt valued enough by McLaren, with his response a clear insight into his mindset as he replied: "I don't really know. I've not really paid any attention to what the managers are talking about, what they have and haven't offered."

He added: "At the end of the day their job is to go in, get it to a certain point and come to me when it's at that point and ask 'what do you want to do?' At some stage I'll find out, and I will decide."

If Hamilton does not know if McLaren value him or not then that would lend itself to suggest all is not well within the team. It is why XIX are refusing to place all their eggs in one basket and are in discussions with Mercedes, who, in turn, remain in limbo as they are unsure as to Michael Schumacher's future.

The driver market hinges on the 43-year-old seven-times champion because if he decides to retire for a second time it potentially opens the door for Hamilton, and so the merry-go-round begins.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, however, has no idea as to Schumacher's plans as he said any decision reached will be a joint one which "could be tomorrow, it could be in a month".

He added: "We've a lot of things we're discussing with him, and when we reach a conclusion we'll be happy to share. But there's no panic with those discussions, and that's what we're focused on at the moment."

For this weekend, it leaves Hamilton eagerly searching for his first win at Monza to close the 47-point gap to championship leader Fernando Alonso. Hamilton said: "I knew yesterday would be a tough day because some people like to start rumours, but I'm feeling positive about the weekend.

"It's not been a particularly good track for me over the years. I have had a second here, but also a good few crashes. So it would be nice to have a good result here, and that's what I am focused on trying to do, regardless of all the stuff surrounding me. I just have to focus and do the job."

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