Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton finally put pen to paper on a one-year deal to stay with Mercedes for the 2021 season. The Brit will look to seal a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ Championship this year.
At the unveiling of Mercedes’ 2021 challenger, the 36-year-old told the media today that whether he wins the 2021 title or not, it won’t be the determining factor as to whether he carries on or not beyond the end of this year. Hamilton believes his love for racing and enjoyment of it will be a key part of that decision he’ll need to make later this year.
“What I’ve made a really important decision in my mind is that I don’t want that [another title] to be the deciding factor,” he said.
“I got into racing because I loved racing, and I think that’s got to always be at the core of what I do.
“If I don’t love racing, if all you’re going for is accolades, if all you’re going for is titles, then I feel like I could potentially lose my way, so of course it’s the ultimate dream, but I don’t think that’s necessarily going to be the deciding factor on whether I stay.
“It’s more whether I still have that smile when I leave the garage. It’s going back to: ‘do you enjoy it?’
“Last year was a really tough year for everyone, including me. But there were some really impactful moments.
“Will that be the case this year? We’ll see. Will I enjoy it as much? We’ll see. I’m excited currently so I’m sure I will.”
Hamilton added that he was satisfied with a one-year deal as he doesn’t want to look too far ahead during the pandemic which started affecting the world around this time last year.
“I’m kind of in a fortunate position where I’ve achieved most of the stuff that I’ve wanted to achieve up to this point, so there’s no real need necessarily to look too far ahead into the future.
“We live in quite an unusual period of time in life, and I just wanted one year then we can talk about if we do more and keep adding it on if we have to.”
The 95-time Grand Prix winner emphasised that he’s hungry and committed to 2021 as he continued to explain why he only signed a one-year deal.
Hamilton continued on to say he’s really focused on improving diversity in Formula One and to deliver on it. The Brit also kneeled (with most of his colleagues) before every race last year as he drew attention to the Black Lives Matter campaign.
“I’m fully invested in this season and delivering – I still love what I do,” he said.
“I’m just generally in a fortunate position that I don’t have to commit to multiple years. So I chose to have a one-year deal. So then I could see how the year goes and where we’re at mid-year or towards the end of the year.
“But it doesn’t mean I’m not committed. I’m still very, very committed to the sport.
“What I’m really focused on is… I think there was a lot of great discussion around this diversity issue and it still remains an issue to this day and it’s not going to change overnight. But what’s really important is to make sure that we are actually delivering and actually taking action.
“So that’s kind of my driving force this year too: to make sure that we continue to push for accountability, and top of that hopefully I can deliver some good performances.”
Hamilton’s a deeply thoughtful person and after getting asked why he didn’t post pictures of celebrating his new contract, he mentioned the fact that it felt inappropriate whilst families around the world continue to lose loved ones to COVID-19. He also conceded it took time for him to return to full strength after contracting the virus.
“I continue to be kind of conscious of what’s happening in the world,” he said. “Posting pictures and celebrating of things, such as a contract being signed, is kind of not really important to me.
“And that’s not really a message that I want to be sending out to people who are losing families, who are losing relatives still, who are struggling in a pandemic. That’s just not where I’m at.
“So I just kind of kept to myself. I was focused on my recovery because it wasn’t a quick situation and getting myself back to full strength, and getting the deal done, and working on some personal relationships that I have.”