Sir Lewis Hamilton has hinted retirement is among his thoughts, saying this season will tell him “whether I’m ready to stop or not”.
At present, the seven-time World Champion does not think he will decide to call it quits at the end of 2021 irrespective of a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ title coming his way.
But his words during the FIA press conference ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix suggested it is by no means certain Hamilton will extend his 15-year F1 career into a 16th season.
The 36-year-old Briton signed a new one-year deal with Mercedes once negotiations finally took place with team principal and co-owner Toto Wolff, having been delayed when Hamilton contracted COVID-19 between the two races in Bahrain at the end of last season.
He also insisted, as he has previously, that setting a new mark for Championship victories would not necessarily be the cue to retire – and nor would surrendering the crown he has held exclusively since 2017.
We’re back 💪🏾 pic.twitter.com/Yg1wvUEHVP
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) March 25, 2021
“The position I’m in has nothing to do with whether we are or we’re not winning the Championship,” said Hamilton. “I don’t quit when the going gets tough.
“I wanted a one-year deal and yes, I said to Toto it would be good that when we work on the future together we should talk about it much earlier than January.
“I’m fully committed to this sport. I love what I’m doing. I’ve arrived more excited to get going than I have in a long time. We’re going to have a great battle one way or another and that’s what I’ve always loved.
“In the current position I’m in, I don’t feel like this is the end. Of course we’ve got these [regulation] changes that are happening next year which are exciting.
“I think this looks like it could be the most exciting season yet. We’ve got new teams, new formats and it’s closer.
“I don’t feel like I’m at the end, but in the next eight months or so I’ll find out whether I’m ready to stop or not. I don’t think I will personally, but you never know.”
The challenge could be even bigger for Mercedes, and Hamilton, this year due to the renewed threat from Red Bull, who looked as if they had the edge on the World Champions during pre-season testing.
“It’s massively exciting for us as a team,” added Hamilton. “We are currently not the fastest and [it’s] how we are going to unite in order to get to where we want to be and I’m so excited for that challenge.
“I think it will be great for the fans and I love the collaboration with the men and women in my team to get to our common goal.”