Lewis Hamilton may have only signed a one-year deal with Mercedes but that doesn’t mean retirement is definitely on the cards, says Toto Wolff.
After months of speculation, Mercedes finally announced on Monday that Hamilton had committed to the team – but only for the next 11 months.
The reigning World Champion signed a one-year deal to race for the Silver Arrows in the 2021 championship, after which his place on the grid is once again uncertain.
Hamilton, who will be fighting for a record-breaking eighth World title this season, hasn’t given any indication to the public as to where his thoughts on taking him.
Wolff says the decision to continue or not come 2022 will be entirely Hamilton’s.
“As long as he enjoys racing, I think he’s very capable of going longer,” the Austrian told Sky Sports.
“He develops as a driver he looks after himself in terms of physical training and mental preparation, so I don’t think in terms of ability that ends in 2021.
“But at the end it’s his decision.”
He added: “Lewis needs to decide what his future holds for him.”
Hamilton will partner Valtteri Bottas this season, the team-mates’ fifth year together.
And while Wolff acknowledges that Mercedes must look to the future with regards to its line up, the motorsport boss says before speaking with anyone else about 2022 he will talk to Hamilton and Bottas.
“Valtteri and Lewis have our 100 per cent commitment and loyalty for 2021, we will support them with everything we have,” he said.
“We will then look beyond this year and say: ‘what is the line-up that we imagine in 2022 and onwards?’
“Our first discussions are going to be with Valtteri and Lewis in respecting our values of loyalty and integrity but on the other side the young drivers are the future and therefore we need to consider how we want to set ourselves up for the years beyond.”
Mercedes have George Russell waiting in the wings.
The Brit is in his final year of his three-year Williams contract with many believing he will be a Mercedes driver in 2022, it’s now just a case of who will he replace.