F1 champ Hamilton signs contract extension with Mercedes

Monaco (SportsNetwork.com) - Defending Formula One World champion Lewis Hamilton has agreed to a three-year contract extension with Mercedes, which will keep him with the team until the end of the 2018 season.

Hamilton joined Mercedes for the start of the 2013 season, and his contract with the team had been due to expire at the end of this season. He won his second F1 title last year, defeating teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg by 67 points. Hamilton is the current leader in the world championship standings, as he holds a 20-point advantage over Rosberg, who won the most recent grand prix in Spain on May 10.

Since making his F1 debut with McLaren in 2007, Hamilton has started every one of his 153 grand prix. The Briton has scored 36 victories, including three this season.

"I've been with Mercedes a long, long time, and they were a part of getting me to Formula One," Hamilton said during a press conference on Wednesday in Monaco. "When I signed in, what was it - '97 - at McLaren-Mercedes, they were hugely influential in guiding me to Formula One, and I've only ever driven for Mercedes, so it was natural to want to continue with them.

"Plus, obviously, I joined this team, and we've had amazing success. I'm very, very happy with the package and the group of people that I have within this team. So it was a very easy decision to make, and it's also great that the team wanted to continue working with me."

Fifteen of Hamilton's grand prix wins have occurred Mercedes, including a career-best 11 victories during last season.

F1 is running the Monaco Grand Prix on the famous streets of Monte Carlo on Sunday. Rosberg has won the previous two Monaco GPs. Hamilton's lone victory in this event occurred in 2008, the year he claimed his first F1 world championship.