Hamilton set for bumper windfall
McLaren are reputedly poised to offer Lewis Hamilton a new contract worth £20million per year and £100m over its full duration.
Hamilton's current deal with the Woking outfit, which has nurtured him since the age of 13, expires at the end of the year.
Although the 27-year-old has repeatedly stressed in recent months that he is in no rush to finalise his future, McLaren - presumably mindful of reports linking their star asset with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, all of whom are set to have a driver vacancy for 2013 - are reputedly preparing to make Hamilton an offer seemingly too lucrative to refuse
According to a host of reports, Hamilton and his advisors will soon be presented with a £20m-per-year deal by McLaren that would tie the driver to the team through his peak years until the age of 33.
However, although The Daily Mail suggests that 'talks are likely to begin in earnest around early July', The Daily Telegraph believes 'any contract is unlikely to be signed until later this summer, or even this autumn, as the finer points are hammered out and Hamilton continues to assess his options.'
Although his relationship with Fernando Alonso has thawed of late, the possibility of Ferrari pairing Hamilton with the Spaniard remains remote given that their solitary season together at McLaren proved to be one of the most mutually-destructive and controversial driver pairings in the sport's history.
Mercedes, meanwhile, are yet to commit their long-term future to F1, while Red Bull boss Christian Horner has previously ruled out signing a driver hardly renowned for living a quiet life.
Hamilton's talent, however, has never been in question, and a scenario in which they have to race against their former protege is the stuff of nightmares for McLaren.
Hence the reputed determination of Martin Whitmarsh and the Woking hierarchy to retain their 'dream team' of Hamilton and Jenson Button, who signed a three-year contract extension with McLaren in October, whatever the cost - even, it seems, if that cost works out at £100m.