F1: How Hamilton compares to Schumacher
Lewis Hamilton has finally ended speculation about his immediate future, by signing a new contract with Mercedes. With the new Formula 1 season just over a month away, the seven-time world champion was technically unemployed following his old deal expiring at the end of 2020.
There had been rumours that the Brit could retire from the sport, despite being just one more Drivers’ Championship away from eclipsing Michael Schumacher’s record.
But those fears were allayed on Monday, with the two parties announcing Hamilton had signed a new one-year contract for the upcoming season.
The length of the contract has raised some eyebrows, particularly with compatriot George Russell potentially in line for a Mercedes seat next season.
Russell is in the final year of his three-season stint with Williams and after impressing in place of Hamilton at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix, could be offered a chance.
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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has claimed that there was never a doubt in his mind over Hamilton agreeing to terms and has hinted that discussions will take place earlier over any future deal.
“There was not a moment where we thought he would not sign. There was never a moment where he doubted,” Wolff said to reporters on Monday.
“Lewis needs to decide what his future holds for him.
“The team needs to decide in the long term what we want to do about drivers.
“As long as he enjoys racing, I think he’s very capable of going longer.
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“He develops as a driver, he looks after himself in terms of physical training and the mental preparation side, so I don’t think in terms of ability that ends in 2021, but at the end it’s his decision.”
In terms of retiring, those discussions may rear their head later this season and Hamilton has already suggested that once he is no longer enjoying the sport, he will call it a day.
Speaking on the Formula for Success podcast last year, he said: “You’ve got to find what you’re passionate about and what you love doing, and me personally, in my journey, there was a point where it just got too serious.
“We only have one life. You have to enjoy what you’re doing.
“You’ve got to find happiness every day in what you are doing and I think that has been really important for me to be able to live in the moment.
“Yes, it’s a competitive space that I’m in, but when I get in that car and put down the visor, the team start up the car and I leave the garage, I have the biggest smile.
“Even today, after all these years of racing,” he added. “If there’s ever a day that that doesn’t happen, I don’t get that smile, I know that it’s done and I need to move on to something else.”
Hamilton now has just over a month until pre-season testing begins in Bahrain on March 12, 10 days after the car for the upcoming season will be revealed.
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