F1 pundit Peter Windsor expects Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to not make the same “mistake” of Michael Schumacher by coming out of retirement once they choose to walk away from Formula 1.
Verstappen has hinted at leaving Formula 1 earlier than many would anticipate, with endurance and GT racing both high on his list of priorities away from the F1 grid in future, while Hamilton is set to enter his 18th season at the top level in 2024.
But while seven-time World Champion Schumacher came out of retirement after a three-year gap to reduced success with Mercedes, Windsor does not expect Hamilton or Verstappen to do the same once the time comes for them to go elsewhere.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen tipped to stay away from F1 grid once retirement comes
Former Williams team manager Windsor was full of praise for Hamilton in particular for how he has managed himself throughout his illustrious career to date, ploughing his own furrow away from the circuit and reaping the rewards as a result.
While he does not think he is the same driver as the rookie who set the F1 world alight back in 2007, he believes his peaks are still above the highly-rated George Russell in the sister Mercedes.
Speaking on a YouTube live stream, Windsor said: “I think one of the reasons Lewis has been so successful is because he’s very intelligent, and he’s intelligent enough to know how to pace his life and his career, and how to sustain his motivation and his drive – and he’s done that very well.
“He’s taken a lot of criticism, particularly from the British tabloid press over the years for the way he’s lived his life away from Formula 1, but a lot of that has been Lewis knowing that he needs that [separation from F1], otherwise it’s going to over overtake him.
“I respect that enormously about Lewis. I think now, it’s an interesting Lewis that we’re seeing because I don’t think it’s the same Lewis that we had around in 2007, 2008.
“I think Lewis now isn’t going to put everything on the line if he doesn’t feel completely comfortable in the car, but I think if he does feel completely comfortable in the car, then I think he’s still quicker than George Russell. I think he’s that good.
“But I think he’s at a point now where he’s not going to be absolutely out there at George pace unless the car is right, and we saw that in Abu Dhabi.”
Speaking about wider examples of how drivers have performed late in their careers, Windsor elaborated and believes fellow seven-time World Champion Schumacher “made a mistake” in coming out of retirement in 2010.
With the two most recent World Champions, and the other current champion on the grid however, he cannot foresee those drivers returning and not being at the same level.
“Fernando is a good example of a guy that’s still out there driving very, very well and very quickly over a long period of time,” he added.
“And he’s had his ups and downs, [competing in] IndyCar and Le Mans and all that stuff and now he’s back in Formula 1 looking pretty hot.
“There’s a good example of a guy that is pretty much in control of his career as well, a bit like Lewis, in very different ways away from racing.
“Fernando’s had his own life, obviously, he lives in his own way, but similar control. I think a lot of it is to do with that – and that comes with an intelligent management of your own ability and your understanding of your own ability and how to get the best from yourself. Lewis has done that very well, [a] case study really on how to do it.
“Other examples, I suppose you’d have to say, Michael [Schumacher], I think probably made a mistake coming back to Mercedes after retiring. I don’t think that worked for him, really.
“So that is an interesting thing that he did there that he kind of just missed racing so much that he had to come back.
“I can’t imagine Lewis ever getting himself into that sort of situation, if you see what I mean, and I don’t think Max will either. I think he’s in very much control of his life and his career.”