Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has signed a two-year contract extension at Mercedes and will remain with the team until the end of 2020.
The deal is reported to be worth $52 million per year, further enhancing the 33-year-old's status as Britain's highest-paid sportsperson.
Briton said extension was a "formality"
Hamilton regarded as an all-time great
The 33-year-old has won four world titles
As far as Hamilton was concerned, the extension had been "a formality" ever since he sat down with Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff "during the winter."
"I have been part of the Mercedes racing family for 20 years and I have never been happier inside a team than I am right now," said the four-time world champion, who currently trails Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by eight points at the midway point of this season's title race.
"We are on the same wavelength both on and off track - and I am looking forward to winning more in the future and shining even more light on the three-pointed star. I'm very confident that Mercedes is the right place to be over the coming years."
Hamilton went on to express his belief that the team is "hungrier than ever," from the boardroom to the pit lane, as they chase a fifth consecutive Constructors' Championship.
"The competitive passion that burns bright inside me is shared by every single member of this group, always chasing the next improvement and digging even deeper to make sure we come out on top," said Hamilton.
"I can't wait to see what we can achieve together in the next two-and-a-half seasons."
An 'all-time great'
Mercedes had teased the announcement on social media earlier Thursday, tweeting an image of an unsigned contract.
Wolff said there had been little doubt his star driver would renew ever since they first entered talks at the end of last season, admitting it was a relief to put the speculation "to rest."
"We signed the final documents this week and didn't want to keep people waiting any longer," said the Mercedes boss.
"There is not much about Lewis as a Formula One driver that hasn't been said already -- he is one of the all-time greats and his track record speaks for itself.
"But what I enjoy most about working with him is getting to know the man inside the racing helmet: his relentless drive for self-improvement, his emotional intelligence as a team member and his loyalty to those around him."
Hamilton was already 12th on the list of the world's highest-paid athletes compiled by business magazine Forbes in 2018, boasting endorsement deals with the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Sony and Puma.
The only other F1 drivers in the top 50 are Vettel (18th) and McLaren's Fernando Alonso (39th).
Widely considered one of the greatest drivers of all time, Hamilton has competed in 218 Grands Prix since his F1 debut in 2007. He's made the podium 124 times, crossing the line first on 65 occasions, while no other driver in history has secured as many pole positions as the Briton.
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