Lewis Hamilton advice for Max Verstappen as sabbatical question is raised

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton explaining to Max Verstappen in the press conference. Hungary July 2023

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton explaining to Max Verstappen in the press conference. Hungary July 2023

Despite looking to beat Max Verstappen to the 2024 F1 title, Lewis Hamilton has encouraged his rival to “keep doing” what he does best as he’s doing a “great” job.

Little did Hamilton and the rest of the paddock know that three years ago when he went wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen for the Drivers’ Championship title it would mark his most recent Grand Prix victory.

The Briton lost the title at the 2021 season finale and has since had to watch as Verstappen and Red Bull have dominated the sport, the Dutchman winning 34 of 44 races in the new ground-effect aerodynamic era.

Lewis Hamilton’s advice for Max Verstappen

Hamilton has not taken a win since 2021 with his win-less streak up to 45 races which is his longest-ever barren run in Formula 1.

He’s hoping to put an end to that this season with Mercedes vowing to put an all-new W15 on the track, the team changing “every component” of the car according to team principal Toto Wolff.

With that in mind pundits are predicting, or perhaps best to say hoping for, a repeat of Hamilton and Verstappen’s 2021 rivalry having missed the thrill that they delivered that year during the past two Red Bull-dominated campaigns.

It is, however, Verstappen who remains the favourite to bring in title number four.

Asked for his thoughts on his rival, Hamilton told FORMULA 1 Magazine: “I would say, keep doing what you’re doing. He’s doing great.”

Eighth title and talk of a sabbatical for Lewis Hamilton

Although last year the Briton put pen to paper on a new two-year deal with Mercedes, one that will keep him with the team through to the end of the 2025 championship, that may not be his last Formula 1 contract.

Chasing a record-breaking eighth World title, winning that may not be the 39-year-old’s “endpoint” but when that does arrive, as things stand today, he does not feel the need to continue in the sport in another capacity.

But those are his thoughts today.

“I never said that an eighth title would be the endpoint,” he said. “And I don’t know what follows after driving in Formula 1.

“I don’t necessarily feel the desire to remain active in Formula 1 any longer, but as I said before: ‘never say never’.

“I can’t imagine not driving anymore and still being in a pit box somewhere. I would probably think: ‘I could stick with it for another year, then I can still participate.’

“So it would probably be better to take a sabbatical and then see if I would still like to come back.”

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On the topic of a sabbatical, Hamilton can understand why some drivers call time on their racing careers only to return to the Formula 1 grid.

Most recently it was Fernando Alonso who did that, spending two years trying his hand at other racing series, while of late there’s talk of Sebastian Vettel potentially returning to the sport.

“It didn’t surprise me, because you see it more often with retired drivers. Fernando Alonso came back, Michael Schumacher too,” said Hamilton.

“I have also seen it with athletes from other sports and have spoken to a few about it. They said, ‘You’re losing something you’ve done all your life. Suddenly it’s gone.’ Then you can miss it and I can imagine that it is an incredible hole to fall into.”

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