Lewis Hamilton has suggested that he could retire if he wins the world title with Mercedes next season. The Brit is chasing a record-breaking eighth crown but has been pipped in two successive years by Max Verstappen, who will chase down a hat-trick of Drivers’ Championships in 2023.
Last season was the first in Hamilton’s career that saw him go without a win for the duration. The Mercedes veteran started the year on a revenge mission after losing out to Verstappen in a controversial 2021 season finale but Red Bull’s pace advantage was too vast to overcome.
The Silver Arrows closed the performance gap by the end of the season but it was George Russell that claimed the team’s solitary Grand Prix win – his first in F1. There were fears that Hamilton would walk away from the sport after agonisingly missing out on the title last year but he has stuck around and looks set to race on towards his fourties.
Hamilton has previously spoken about extending his Mercedes contract but recent comments in an interview with Sport Bild suggest that he could even walk away at the end of next season, providing he does so as world champion.
“I think retiring as a world champion is a dream that every athlete has – and so do I,” he admitted. Hamilton has topped the pile on seven prior occasions, putting him level with the great Michael Schumacher at the top of the all-time list.
Last season saw him beaten in the points standings by his new team-mate Russell, giving the 37-year-old a new incentive to push and re-establish himself as top dog. Hamilton finished more than 200 points behind Verstappen, who broke the record by winning 15 Grands Prix in a single year.
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Mercedes struggled with porpoising at the start of the new ground effect era, which began last year, but they have since got to grips with the new design regulations and could mount a charge for Red Bull’s Constructors’ Crown in 2023. Christian Horner and co could be fighting with one arm tied behind their backs after a breach of the FIA’s budget cap saw them slapped with a fine and a reduction in wind tunnel time to develop their car.
Retiring as champion would see Hamilton follow the lead of former team-mate and rival Nico Rosberg, who did the same after winning a gripping title battle in 2016. Even if the next Drivers’ Championship doesn’t come next year, the Brit admits that it won’t be ‘terribly long’ before he walks away from the sport.
“Sometimes you wake up and have this feeling: I don’t want to do this anymore,” he added. “And sometimes you wake up and think: I can still do other things my whole life, there is definitely more I want to achieve. It won’t be a terribly long time now, but I’ll definitely be staying.
“I know how hard it is to be at the top and to stay there. We want to get back to the top! What gives us great hope is the end of this season. The last few races have shown a clear positive trend and prove that with perseverance we can achieve anything.”