Lewis Hamilton on a number of occasions has openly discussed his retirement from Formula One. Having lost the drivers’ championship in 2016 to team mate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton made global headlines revealing, ”My destiny is in my own hands. I can decide to stop at the end of this year. Does that mean my legacy is less great than it would be if I stop in five years’ time? Who’s to say?”
Jenson Button responded on twitter “Big words!!! Does he mean it?”
Covid-19 affects Hamilton
Three years later aged 35 Lewis admitted he’d struggle to motivate himself during the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic. Featured in a Mercedes video Hamilton said: “I have days when I wake up and feel groggy, I don’t feel motivated to work out. I feel, ‘Jeez, where are we going? What’s next? Should I continue racing?’”
Hamilton eventually signed a new two year deal that sees him racing for Mercedes F1 until the end of the 2023 season. Of note is that Hamilton has usually leaves negotiating new contracts until well into the final year of his current deal.
However with over a year left on his present Mercedes deal, Lewis Hamilton singled at the US GP he intends to sign a new “multi-year” contract with his team.
Wolff no rush to sign
HIs team boss Toto Wolff has now responded. In relaxed fashion Wolff reveals there’s no rush from his side to get the discussions going.
“We haven’t started any talks,” Wolff said. “We want to definitely finish the season and then find some quiet time over the winter like we did last time around.”
There are still questions whether Lewis is past his best given his new team mate George Russell’s performances this season have on a number of occasions eclipsed the 7 times world champion.
Russell is still 15 points ahead of Hamilton in the drivers’ championship with just two races to go.
Is Hamilton past his best?
Russell’s first season at Mercedes is reminiscent of Hamilton’s back in 2007. Lewis went head to head with newly crowned double world champion Fernando Alonso and finished tied with him at the season’s close.
Much has been made of the fact that Fernando Alonso may be delivering some of his best performances well into his 40’s but it’s no guarantee Hamilton will perform at the same level as eh ages.
Wolff hints at life with Lewis after he finishes racing; “He’s much more than a driver to us now. And although we’re not talking about a career end, it’s also important to speak about his role as an ambassador for Mercedes and the many sponsors we have and the implication he can have in our wider universe.
Ambassador role for Lewis
However the Mercedes boss suggests there could be opportunities for Lewis to race beyond another two years.
“You can see today’s athletes pushing the boundaries in terms of age,” Wolff explained.
“For me, Fernando [Alonso] is performing at a very high level and you look, for me, at the best athlete in the world, Tom Brady, on the field being tackled and throwing a ball at 45-years-old.”
“As long as you continue to look after yourself and your cognitive sensors, I think he has many more years in him.
“I’m pretty certain that’s going to be case here in the team.”
Will Hamilton fade?
It will be interesting to see what in fact Lewis and Mercedes agree. Hamilton has shown his hand by suggesting he wants a long term contract, though Mercedes may be more circumspect.
Were the 2023 W14 car to again be uncompetitive or Russell grow from strength to strength, Hamilton may quickly become disillusioned with his pursuit for a record breaking 8th F1 drivers’ championship.