Lewis Hamilton is to make a decision on his Formula One future before next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, Press Association Sport has learned.
Hamilton's answer, on whether he remains with McLaren or opts to move to Mercedes, could potentially come as early as Friday, although it is understood the situation is not 100% finalised. The likelihood is Hamilton will continue his partnership with McLaren that now stretches back 14 years after he was initially signed up as a 13-year-old.
Press Association Sport was told by a source close to McLaren after the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday that a contract to stay loyal to the Woking-based marque was "85-90%" resolved.
Given the current economic climate, McLaren's initial offer saw them slash the 27-year-old's yearly salary by a third from £10million to around £6.75m and on a par with team-mate Jenson Button, resulting in the need to look elsewhere.
With management company, XIX Entertainment run by impresario Simon Fuller, known to have entered into negotiations with Mercedes, the German manufacturing giant then put in a sizeable bid.
It is understood Mercedes also offered Hamilton greater freedom with regard to his image rights and less impact on his personal time from corporate sponsorship appearances. With McLaren's hand forced, they are believed to have increased their annual salary offer by a further £2m, and more in line with Mercedes.
Further negotiations have taken place behind the scenes these past few days since the race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit where team principal Martin Whitmarsh and Hamilton both appeared more relaxed.
It was in stark contrast to the tense atmosphere that pervaded the paddock at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix as Hamilton landed in hot water with the team for tweeting telemetry data from qualifying.
A few days later, when former team boss and current BBC television pundit Eddie Jordan remarked a deal with Mercedes was done and an announcement imminent, it sparked a feeding frenzy at Monza ahead of the race in Italy, with Hamilton bombarded with questions.
Hamilton, however, kept his cool on the track to win from pole and thrust himself back in the title hunt, following which McLaren began their concerted push to retain the 2008 world champion.