Lewis Hamilton wants to continue in Formula 1 – but will take his time over finalising a new contract.
The British driver, who clinched his sixth world title at the US Grand Prix, is almost certain to stay at Mercedes.
“When you’ve been with a team for so long, we are kind of joined at the hip,” the 34-year-old said. “All that detail can take its time.
“But you need to set some time aside to say ‘where are we, what’s the next goal, what else are we planning?'”
Hamilton’s current Mercedes contract runs until the end of the 2020 season.
Speaking before this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, he said one of the issues on which he is looking for an answer is the future of team boss Toto Wolff, who has been linked in some quarters with a potential move to running Formula 1.
“It’s a difficult one because I know being stuck in one position for too long can not always be a positive so I always want people to spread their wings and do what is best for their careers. Only he knows what that is,” Hamilton said.
“But as a business you need to have the right people in place and he has been the right person – it has been the perfect match.
“So I don’t particularly want him to leave if I’m staying in the sport but ultimately that’s going to be his choice.
“This team is not one person. It’s a huge group of people. But it is important to me and I am waiting to see where his head is at. The sport could also be in a good place with someone like him running it but I don’t know if that’s more of a fun experience.”
Hamilton said he was not especially looking forward to the negotiations because “it is just confrontation, isn’t it?”
He added: “It’s almost like I only just did this contract and I already have to start talking about the potential of the next one.
“It won’t be really stressful but it’s daunting when you think about it coming up, also because you are committing to a period of time and it’s sometimes hard to think that far ahead but of course it’s nice to be wanted and hopefully soon we’ll get that sorted.”
Wolff is not in Brazil for this weekend’s race, missing a grand prix for the first time since he took over as Mercedes motorsport boss in 2013 as he stays in Europe attending to other issues.
Hamilton said: “I texted him and said ‘you’ve built an incredible team here and we’re going to do you proud’.
“Nothing really changes for us within the team. he will be missed on the pit wall and his input through the weekend will be missed but we are still here to do a job and our focus doesn’t shift. He’ll still be watching so you can still get in trouble from the headmaster.”
Focus on Ferrari
Hamilton is determined to end the season on a high, saying he wants to win the final two grands prix in Brazil on Sunday and Abu Dhabi on 1 December.
Ferrari will be the centre of attention in some ways following their poor performance at the last race in Austin.
That followed a rules clarification from governing body the FIA, underlining ways in which interfering with the running of the engine’s hybrid system would be illegal.
The ruling came in answer to an enquiry from Red Bull, who had asked about potential ways of interfering with the mandatory fuel-flow meter that could lead it to exceed the maximum permitted fuel flow.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said in Austin that the ruling had not affected them, but there has been another clarification before the race in Sao Paulo, this time emphasising that it would be illegal for teams to introduce lubricants into the engine which could have the side-effect of boosting power.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel said the team “did not fully understand” why they were off the pace in the US, but added: “I am pretty confident we can be back to our normal form here.”
Asked if that would silence the suspicion, Vettel said: “We have had Mercedes having the best engine for five years and if it is now for a couple of months we are ahead, hopefully it stays like that for another five years and I don’t care what people think or say.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said in Austin that he believed Ferrari’s dip in form was directly related to the first clarification.
But Vettel said: “Everybody is free to say what they want. I don’t think anybody in the team took it personal. It is not professional and not mature.
“We are not proud of how we performed in Austin on Sunday. After Saturday, no-one had the need to complain. Sunday, we struggled with more than one thing – conditions, tyres, set-up, which are things we need to work on. But live and let live. If that’s what he thinks, that’s what he thinks, but in the end we don’t care so much.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari’s lead driver in the championship, has a 10-place grid penalty in Brazil as a result of fitting a new engine following a failure in practice in the US, which required him to use a previous-specification engine in the race.
He said: “I personally don’t have any motivation to prove them wrong. We all know what we are doing. We know there is absolutely nothing wrong. And I feel confident things will come back to normal here.
“In Austin, there were a few things did not go our way – and the change of engine to the older spec on my side was not ideal and for the race we saw that and that is why we changed the engine to the newer spec. But no extra motivation to prove them wrong.”
Otto Wallin’s father Carl dreamed his son would box in Las Vegas.
Fighting AJ and a Vegas chance
Wallin followed his fighting father and brother to the gym in their home city of Sundsvall on Sweden’s east coast. He would watch but was not allowed to enter the ring until eventually being granted permission by his parents aged 15.
The tall, skinny, teenage footballer “fell in love” with boxing. He was converted to the rigours and loneliness of individual sport and felt comfortable knowing he need not rely on team-mates in pursuing success. At home, his father would preach the fundamentals of the sweet science.
“I remember the smell of the gym as a kid,” he said. “My dad believed in a good jab and good basics. He was always talking about Muhammad Ali and his jab. Both Ali and my dad are my heroes, for sure.
“In Sweden we have light-contact boxing before you can have a real fight. I had three of these. In my first real fight I was surprised as the bell rang and the guy was there trying to take my head off. I pulled it together and that was just a brief moment of doubt I had.”
There will be no room for doubt when the bell rings against Fury in a bout which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live at around 04:00 BST on Sunday in the UK.
Wallin, who has prepared by training twice a day at a New York gym closed off to the public, insists stage fright has long left his system.
Two contests with former world champion Anthony Joshua during their amateur days helped sharpen his game, as did countless rounds the pair shared sparring as professionals.
“Fighting him in the amateurs was special,” Wallin recalls. “He was big, powerful and I was a little smaller but we were both very raw. They were competitive fights but I lost decisions. You learn a lot from those and who could have known that he would become world champion? I had no idea about that when we fought.”
Wallin had his first pro fight in 2013, aged 22, four months before Joshua did the same. So began life on the road, with spells living in Denmark and Germany before relocating to the US.
His endeavour will be rewarded with the biggest purse of his career in facing Fury, money he may invest in customising tools to fit his huge frame for his latest hobby.
“I started playing golf last year,” he says. “My handicap is only 25, so not so good. I sometimes wonder if I should have longer clubs but the guy that sold them to me says it doesn’t matter so I don’t really know.
“I will make a good purse out of this fight but if I win it will be really life-changing so I am trying to do everything I can to do that.”
The mansion and Rolls-Royce splashed across the social media pages of Andy Ruiz Jr following his stunning defeat of Joshua show the rewards a shock for the ages can provide.
But Wallin, who will be flanked by his two brothers, mother and around 20 friends for his first trip to Las Vegas, has more than money on his mind.
“My father taught me good lessons that I have to put everything in and that I will only get this chance once,” he adds.
Asked if he feels tears may follow should he land a colossal shock, he simply replies: “Probably. You just never know when those moments will come.”
His own moment in Las Vegas has.