Months may pass until Lewis Hamilton signs a new deal to race in formula one beyond 2012, according to Martin Whitmarsh.
Whitmarsh is the team principal for McLaren, where the 2008 world champion has spent his entire F1 career to date.
The Woking based team has made clear its desire to hang onto the 26-year-old but Hamilton has also been linked elsewhere, notably to Red Bull.
Whitmarsh is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying the British driver "is intelligent enough" to realise that McLaren is the best place for him.
"Lewis has made it clear to me he wants to stay in the team and I've made it clear to him I want him to stay," he said.
"At some point, we need to get a contractual agreement that reflects that, of course. But I don't think - despite the media interest - that either of us thinks we have to get to a contract in three months or six months.
"I trust him and I think he trusts me," added Whitmarsh.
Amid the Red Bull rumours, Hamilton said recently that the outfit is "just a drinks company" and Whitmarsh has now repeated the arguably disparaging remark.
"We are focused on winning the championship this year, next year, in five years and 10 years' time, as motor racing is our core business," he said.