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SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) — Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton will stay with Mercedes through the 2023 season after signing a two-year contract extension, the team said Saturday.

The seven-time champion is currently in his ninth season with Mercedes.

“It is hard to believe it’s been nearly nine years working with this incredible team and I’m excited we’re going to continue our partnership for two more years,” Hamilton said. “We’ve accomplished so much together but we still have a lot to achieve, both on and off the track.”

An eighth championship would move Hamilton ahead of Michael Schumacher on the all-time list. Hamilton currently trails Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 18 points after eight races.

Team principal Toto Wolff said this season’s tight race for the title prompted them to get the contract done.

“We are relishing the battle we have on our hands this year — and that’s why we also wanted to agree this contract early, so we have no distractions from the competition on track,” Wolff said. “I have always said that as long as Lewis still possesses the fire for racing, he can continue as long as he wants.”

The deal was announced ahead of qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix. Hamilton led the second practice on Friday.


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