Lewis Hamilton is giving serious consideration to calling time on his long and glittering Formula One career at the end of the season. The world champion made the claim after victory at Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, suggesting that at the age of 35 he is ready to focus on “family and those sort of things”.
Victory at Imola was Hamilton’s ninth of the season and moved him ever closer to matching Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 titles having already surpassed the German’s record of Formula One race victories. The win also secured a seventh consecutive constructors’ title for Mercedes, with whom Hamilton has yet to agree a new contract. It is a source of uncertainty for the team, which was significantly heightened on Sunday after the team principal, Toto Wolff, confirmed that while he will still be at Mercedes next year, he plans to step down from his current position. Hamilton and Wolff both joined Mercedes in 2013 and, when asked if Wolff’s decision would have any impact, Hamilton was blunt.
“I don’t even know if I’m going to be here next year, so it’s not really a concern for me,” he said. “We have a lot of deep conversations, Toto and I, so I’m very aware of where he is mentally, and we share a lot of and carry a lot of the weight together. I’ve been here a long, long time. I can definitely understand wanting to pull back a little bit and giving more time to family and those sort of things.”
This is Hamilton’s 14th season in F1. He has suggested this season that signing a new contract with Mercedes was a formality, a matter of finding time to hammer out the details. Yet still no deal has been done.
“Well, we’re in November, and Christmas isn’t that far away,” he said. “I feel great, I feel still very strong, I feel I can keep going for plenty of months. There’s multiple things that 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 for the F1 afterlife, so time will tell.”
Wolff admitted that as things stood he could not be sure Hamilton would race on, although he is optimistic he would do so. “Nothing is ever secure,” he said. “You could, like Niki Lauda in the 70s, wake up one morning at a track and say: ‘I am just not having fun any more.’ I think that can happen to anybody. But we want to continue this journey, we are not finished.”