Mercedes have secured their seventh Constructors’ Championship in a row, but Lewis Hamilton said he may not be around in 2021.
The Briton is now tantalisingly close to a record-equalling seventh World Championship, but both he and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff are out of contract at the end of the season.
All signs point towards Wolff continuing with the team, even if it isn’t in a team principal role with the Austrian saying he is looking at potential successors.
And it was thought that a new deal for Hamilton before the end of the year would be a formality.
But after his 93rd Formula 1 win at the Emilia Romagna GP, Hamilton hinted that he may not continue into 2021.
Asked about how Wolff’s announcement could impact on Hamilton’s future, he responded: “I don’t even know if I’m going to be here next year so it’s not a concern for me at the moment.
“I understand and we have a lot of deep conversations, Toto and I, so I’m very, very aware of where he is mentally and we share and carry a lot of the weight together, I think.
“I’ve been here a long, long time. I can definitely understand wanting to pull back a little bit and give more time to family and those things.
“I don’t know who would replace [him] but he is a leader. He’s not going to put anyone that’s not going to be able to do the job, not going to be up to it, who’s not going to be geared up. He will find the right people.
“That’s why we have the success we have, he’s found the right people and put them in position to be able to shine as bright as possible. He’s just empowered every single person in this team to be the best they can be. So he will find somebody that’s able to take on and continue.
“It’s not just one person, this team, it’s not just about one person. It’s a collective of a lot of people. Toto doesn’t build the car. It’s a real team effort. But I’m supportive of him, whatever he wants to do, moving forwards.
“We’re in November and it’s crazy that Christmas isn’t that far away. Naturally I feel great, I feel very strong and I feel like I could keep going for plenty of months.
“So I don’t know. You mentioned about Toto and shelf life, there’s multiple things that do stay on the top of my mind. I would like to be here next year but there’s no guarantee of that, for sure. There’s a lot that excites me of the ‘after-life’. So time will tell.”
Heading into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Mercedes had their first opportunity of the season to wrap up a seventh Constructors’ title in a row.
And with Max Verstappen crashing out of the Emilia Romagna GP alongside Alex Albon’s spin at the Safety Car restart which saw him finish last in P15, Mercedes were able to capture that seventh title in a row at their first attempt.
“I look at my crew, this team here, and I know all the men and women back at the factory, back in Brackley and Brixworth – they are the unsung heroes,” Hamilton told Sky F1 after taking victory at Imola, the 93rd win of his career.
“They’re the ones that have really grafted away and never given up, just continued to push and elevate and innovate.
“People watch it and might maybe think we’re used to this. But it just always feels like the first with this team, and I think that’s because of the spirit.
“So I’m forever, forever grateful to everyone to be a part of it, to be a part of breaking a record like this. No team has done this before.
“It is unbelievable. It’s unbelievable and to come back year-on-year, and whilst we have great performance, it is not easy to continue to deliver weekend in, weekend out.
“Seven time champs – that is something I am going to be able to tell my grandchildren one day.”
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) November 1, 2020
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff isn’t the type of person to get caught up in numbers, but he was clear that his team still want to push the benchmark even further.
“We have a group that is just amazing together,” he explained.
“We’ve stayed together we’ve tried to push the benchmark to new levels, and we’ve achieved that.
“It’s just a super proud moment with these guys and being part of it.
“As long as we stay motivated and energised and you can see that within these guys [Hamilton and Bottas], then I think we can push it further more.
“There will be competition, no doubt, next year with Max [Verstappen] and Honda trying to do a really good job towards the end of the season.
“We are looking forward to a new challenge.”