Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is out of contract with Mercedes at the end of the 2018 season. In this picture, race winner Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo, Spain, May 13, 2018. Charles Coates/Getty Images

The 1996 Formula 1 Drivers’ champion Damon Hill believes Lewis Hamilton is making his Mercedes team “sweat a bit” with regards to signing a new contract to remain with the team beyond the 2018 campaign.

The British four-time world champion is in the final seven months of his contract with the Silver Arrows team, but is yet to agree on a new deal. Talks have been on-going since the end of last season with reports suggesting he will agree a new deal which will make him the joint-highest earner in the sport alongside Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

However, an agreement is yet to be confirmed despite both the team and the driver stating their intention to carry on together for the foreseeable future. Hamilton was a similar position in 2012 when he waited until late in the season to reject an offer from then team McLaren and make a shock decision to join Mercedes in 2013.

Hill is of the view that Hamilton is well aware of his power in the sport and is thus trying to get the best deal possible while making Mercedes sweat as they will not be keen to lose another championship winning driver.

“Lewis does a very good job of appearing innocent and not understanding but I think he has a very astute mind when it comes to what his power is in the sport,” Hill said, as quoted by the Sun. “He is powerful enough and a precious commodity in the sport and maybe just making them wait and sweat a bit. Mercedes might be sweating.”

Nico Rosberg left Mercedes at the end of the 2016 after making a shock decision to retire from the sport just four days after winning his maiden F1 Drivers’ championship title. Hill feels Hamilton could be influenced by it as he also is keen to pursue a career away from motorsport at some point in his life.

And that the Briton will only sign a new deal if he is certain of wanting to remain in F1 in the long-term. Hamilton looked happy and motivated as Mercedes dominated the recent Spanish Grand Prix and insisted he wants to stay with the Brackley-based team.

“He has to really want to race and carry on. He does have another life he wants to pursue elsewhere. Although he did not look like that in Barcelona last week, he looked as though he was really hooked up and enjoys what he is doing and can become champion again. ... But I wonder if Nico Rosberg’s retirement weighed on his mind a little bit. When you are an F 1 driver, you hanker for the days when you can escape from it. It is a very tough life for a driver. You start thinking, especially in the mid-30s, about having a weekend off.”