Lewis Hamilton thanked Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto for his recent praise, amid growing suggestions that the Formula 1 world champion might be in line for a move to Maranello.
Speaking on Friday at the Abu Dhabi GP, Binotto said he was "happy" that Hamilton could be available to sign for the 2021 campaign, while Gazzetta dello Sport followed that with claims that Hamilton has twice met with Ferrari president in 2019, with a potential deal not out of the question.
While stopping short of committing either way on the subject, Hamilton pointed out that views on him from Maranello may be starting to soften.
Hamilton said: "I think that's the first compliment I've had from Ferrari in these 13 years!
"Honestly I don't remember them ever mentioning me, ever, so thank you! I'll take it.
"It doesn't really mean anything, it's all talk, but it's nice that finally, it's taken all these years for them to recognise maybe, but I'm grateful."
He added: "It's positive. I think it's never a waste of time ever to be nice to someone. It has been a long, long, long time and a team that I've always appreciated over the years, so to own the respect from someone from there who's obviously very high up is not a bad thing.
"I think they've got two great drivers as is, so who knows what the driver market's going to be doing over the next year.
"But, to be honest, I'm not really focused on that right this second. I'm trying to make sure I finish off strong.
"I've got this incredible group of people behind me where I am and I feel like I just continue to owe it to them to give my heart to them and my energy 100 per cent to them, particularly as I'm still in contract and negotiations haven't started yet!
"I honestly don't know how the next phase of the months is going to go when it comes to contracts. It's very odd that you have [to negotiate a new deal] almost a year before it ends and it can't be done towards the end, but that's just the way it goes. But we shall see."
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