Jenson Button does not foresee Lewis Hamilton retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the year, with the seven-time World Champion “hungry” to get back on top.
Hamilton’s current Mercedes contract is due to expire at the end of the season and, despite both driver and team being keen to extend their partnership and having initially targeted to agree new terms over the winter break, nothing has yet been signed.
There is still a long way to go in the season, but that has not stopped rumours beginning to swirl around whether or not Hamilton would want to continue in Formula 1 beyond the end of the year, particularly with Mercedes having started 2023 off the pace of Red Bull once again.
Charles Leclerc’s name has been linked with Mercedes, with team principal Toto Wolff confirming the current Ferrari driver is on his “radar” for the long-term future, with his deal with the Scuderia set to end in 2024 – though Wolff and Leclerc have both rubbished speculation that they have been in talks over a Mercedes drive.
But given Hamilton is currently on the longest winless streak of his esteemed career, Button, formerly Hamilton’s team-mate at McLaren, has backed him to carry on his stay in Formula 1 – not least because of how much he will want to get back to the top of the sport again.
“I don’t think Lewis is going to walk away from the sport,” the 2009 World Champion told Sky Sports.
“As a racing driver, if you’ve been winning for so long and then you’re suddenly not, you want to fight back to winning – so you’re not going to retire.
“Or, to come at it another way, if you’re in a bad car for many years, you want to retire – because it just gets you down. But Lewis is not in a bad car, he’s just in a car that is not as good as what he is used to.
“He knows the strength of the team, he knows how quick he is still and they’re going to work together to get back to fighting with Red Bull. And I think they will.
“It probably won’t be this year. But in 2024, I think we see Lewis on the grid. He’s still hungry to win another World Championship.”
Hamilton currently sits fourth in the Drivers’ Championship after four rounds of the season, albeit 45 points off Max Verstappen’s lead at this early stage, with he and Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez having taken two wins apiece so far in 2023.