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Hamilton to be hard-nosed over F1 contract

Lewis Hamilton indicates he’s prepared to be hard-headed over his contract extension.

McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton

BELGIUM - Lewis Hamilton indicated on Thursday that he was prepared to be hard-headed in talks with McLaren about a Formula One contract extension.

The 2008 world champion's contract expires at the end of the season and negotiations have been going on for months.

Hamilton, 27, has been part of the McLaren 'family' since he was in his early teens and building up a reputation in go-karts and it would be a surprise if he walked away from the Woking-based team.

While recognising those strong bonds, he told reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix that other considerations could not be overlooked, however.

"Yeah, but this is a business," he replied when asked whether, in his 'heart of hearts', McLaren was where he wanted to stay.

"I always wear my heart on my sleeve but of course you have to be business-minded as well."

Hamilton is managed by XIX Entertainment, who also look after the business affairs of former England soccer captain David Beckham and tennis player Andy Murray, the Olympic gold medallist in London this month.

The Formula One driver is a hot property, a familiar face well beyond the racetrack due to his advertising presence and relationship with U.S. pop singer Nicole Scherzinger.

Some reports have put his current deal at $23.74 million a year and indicated he wants a raise on that.

McLaren chairman Ron Dennis said in June, however, that any new contract would have to recognise the changes in the global economy since the last one was drawn up.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh also indicated this month that negotiating a contract with Hamilton was proving more complicated than it had been with others such as his team mate Jenson Button.

The team may feel they are in a strong position, with no vacancy at champions Red Bull and glamour team Ferrari unlikely to take the risk of pairing him with Fernando Alonso after their uncomfortable time together at McLaren in 2007.

Mercedes, McLaren's engine suppliers and former partners, might be an option if seven-times world Michael Schumacher decides to call time on his comeback but other teams would likely baulk at the cost.

Hamilton, winner of two races this season but fourth in the championship and 47 points behind leader Alonso, said his contract position remained little different to the start of the season.

"There's work being done in the background now and I'm not really focusing on that," he said.

"The guys that are paid to do their job are discussing that and working on getting that resolved...It's important at the moment that the team know I am massively committed to them winning the championship."