Hamilton signed his current deal back in 2015, when he was a mere two-time world champion, netting himself an estimated £100million over the three years.

He has since added two more titles to his record, drawing level with and making his next payday said to be worth around £120m over the same period.

And with less than 12 months left on Hamilton’s contract, the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull and even McLaren cannot help but take notice of the fact that his future remains foggy.

But at the Mercedes launch at Silverstone – the world champions are the only team in 2018 to hold such an inclusive event – the 33-year-old did his best to insist the delay on his new contract was down to logistics more than any sort of standoff.

“Once I left in December I was away, it’s not something I particularly like to do over the phone and I didn’t get back until February,” Hamilton said, adding that he thought a deal could be done before the first Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 25.

“I was away during that time but we spoke very often, talking about how committed we are to each other.

“There’s no reason to rush anything. There’s no panic.

“I’m not feeling under any pressure of any other drivers being there and Toto and Mercedes have no reason to feel that I’m talking to anybody else.“

Hamilton also added that he had never spoken to another team in his six years in Brackley – a period that includes his catastrophic fallout with Nico Rosberg.

And the German’s retirement should, for all Hamilton’s protestations of loyalty, have taught the team never to say never.

Team boss Toto Wolff though appears relaxed about the prospect of starting the season without getting pen on paper.

is the personification of hunger,” Wolff said.

“He is extremely motivated and coming back after the winter break and I don’t think that lack of hunger is an issue for him.

“He is in good spirits.

“And in terms of our deal coming together, very good discussions, ticking the dots and expecting to come up with some news soon.”

The car itself differs little from the 2017 model, although Hamilton claimed even before having driven it that it was “better in every aspect”.

The four green stripes down the side of the livery represent the four world titles won by the team since 2014.

The most recent one was certainly the toughest, with Ferrari and Vettel pushing Mercedes harder than in any previous hybrid-era season, although reliability issues eventually put paid to their bid.

But Hamilton and Wolff had their own issues to deal with and certain tracks proved massive stumbling blocks, such as Monaco where Valtteri Bottas and his team-mate could only finish fourth and seventh respectively.

However, reigning champion Hamilton says the team have dialled in on the issues from 2017.

“It looks quite similar and inside and underneath the shell, it’s all refined to perform even better than it did last year so I’m really excited,” Hamilton added.

“Silverstone was an incredibly successful race for us, but there were some races where we struggled.

“Understanding where our weaknesses are and working on them has been at the forefront of our goals and our minds.”

Perfection is the goal. Hamilton’s new contract is surely the first step.

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