Mar.16 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton has dropped a strong hint about his future beyond 2012, indicating he will decide his future soon.
Red Bull's Christian Horner has ruled out the 2008 world champion as Sebastian Vettel's new teammate, while rumours persist that Mercedes sees Hamilton, 27, as a potential successor to Michael Schumacher.
But rumours in Melbourne indicate Mercedes is almost ready to extend Schumacher's contract, intensifying talk that Briton Hamilton will similarly stay at McLaren.
He told reporters in Melbourne the first four races of 2012 will be key.
"They will definitely play a role," said Hamilton. "My decision will be based on more than just the car. When you make a decision on your future it's the whole package, it's various things.
My decision will be based on more than just the car
"I'm happy to be here (at McLaren)," he added. "I'll leave it to my management to take care of the rest."
With Jenson Button the standout performer at McLaren last year amid Hamilton's personal problems, the 2008 world champion said his immediate focus is to get back on form.
"It is a great privilege to be here but it is easy to come and go. Let's hope I can stay here (in F1)," he said.