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Hamilton withdraws from Italian GP media commitments

Credit: PA

Lewis Hamilton has been withdrawn from his Italian Grand Prix media commitments on Thursday due to an "unavoidable personal commitment".

Hamilton, who holds a 17-point lead over Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, was due to appear in front of the press this afternoon.

But Hamilton's Mercedes team confirmed that the defending champion will not be arriving in Monza until later this evening. He has also been excused from the official driver autograph session.

Mercedes did not want to elaborate on the reasons behind Hamilton's absence, but insisted the 33-year-old Englishman is set to be in his car as usual for Friday's practice sessions.

Hamilton won from pole position at Monza last year, but Ferrari are the team arriving at their home race in form after Vettel delivered a crushing victory in Belgium last weekend.

Hamilton - It's too early for title talk

Hamilton claimed pole in Budapest and delivered the victory on Sunday. Credit: PA

Lewis Hamilton insists he does not have one hand on the Formula One championship despite striking a major psychological blow to Sebastian Vettel in the title race.

Hamilton will head into the sport's month-long summer break 24 points ahead of the Ferrari driver following his flawless win in Hungary on Sunday.

Vettel recovered from fourth to second, but following Hamilton's fifth win of the campaign - and the Briton traditionally at his peerless best in the second half of the year - he could be excused for feeling he has at least one finger on his fourth title in five years. The season resumes in Belgium on August 26.

"Absolutely not, and it is far too early to think about that when you consider the ups and downs we have had this year," Hamilton said when asked if he was closing in on the title.

"I don't believe there is ever a time when you think you have got your hand on the championship. We still have a long way to go.

"A lot can happen moving forward, but what is important is that we continue to keep the pressure on, and work as we have done until now."

The twisty Hungaroring circuit, situated on the outskirts of Budapest, should have been the venue for a slam-dunk Vettel victory, given the track is not suited to Hamilton's Mercedes machinery.

But Hamilton laid the foundations for his triumph by blowing away the opposition to secure pole with a masterclass in the wet on Saturday and, in normal conditions for the race, his victory was never in doubt. He crossed the line 17 seconds clear.

It marked Hamilton's second win in just eight days following his remarkable triumph in the rain at Hockenheim, and another blow to Vettel who has lost 32 points to his rival in just two races.

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Hamilton signs new Mercedes deal until 2020

Hamilton's new contract cements his status as Britain's biggest sporting earner. Credit: PA

Mercedes have confirmed that Hamilton has agreed a two-year contract extension through to the end of the 2020 Formula One season.

Although Mercedes did not reveal specifics of the deal, Press Association Sport understands that the four-time world champion will earn up to £40-million-a-year.

The Englishman's new contract cements his status as Britain's biggest sporting earner as well as the best-paid driver in Formula One history.

Mercedes' announcement comes ahead of the team's home race in Germany, with Hamilton trailing Sebastian Vettel in the championship by eight points.

Hamilton said on the Mercedes website: "This contract extension has basically been a formality since Toto and I sat down during the winter, so it's good to put pen to paper, announce it and then get on with business as usual.

"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.

"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.

"Although we have enjoyed so much success together since 2013, Mercedes is hungrier than ever - from Dr Zetsche and the board members at the top of Daimler, through (team boss) Toto (Wolff) and the team management, to every single person I meet in the corridors of Brixworth and Brackley.

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