Formula One enfant terrible Lewis Hamilton is again in the spotlight this week as fevered speculation over his future dominates the build-up to the Singapore Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old Briton lies second in the standings behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, after a consummate drive in Italy brought his third win of the season and renewed hope of a second world title.
Formula One is embarking on a four-stop Asian swing, from Singapore’s glittering, skyscraper-studded night race, to Japan, South Korea and India, which may settle this year’s unpredictable title race.
But the precocious Hamilton’s off-track affairs are dominating headlines after he admitted his future was undecided at long-term employer McLaren, and a reported cooling of relations with teammate Jenson Button.
The 2008 world champion brought a sharp rebuke from Button after he tweeted sensitive team information during this month’s Belgian Grand Prix. His muted victory celebrations in Italy were widely noted.
In the run-up to Singapore, the 14th of 20 races, Hamilton stressed he was “happy with McLaren” — but said he had not committed to any team next season, when he is out of contract. Mercedes are courting his signature. “No, I haven’t committed to any team as yet. I don’t have a timeline either,” Hamilton said, at a promotional event in Mumbai.
“I won my first world championship with McLaren and I am happy with their background, the people and environment there,” he added.
It is the latest in a series of distractions for Hamilton, whose 2011 season was affected by problems with his girlfriend, Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, and who lost his aunt to cancer last month.