During the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, it was announced by Mercedes that their star driver Lewis Hamilton signed a new two-year deal to stay with the Brackley-based team until the conclusion of the 2023 season.
The partnership has been a stunning success: Hamilton has won six Drivers’ Championships with the team and contributed to seven Constructors’ Titles since he joined them in 2013. They’re facing a massive challenge to hold onto their crowns this year, though.
Hamilton will be 38 when his contract expires at the end of 2023 and doesn’t see himself carrying on in F1 until his 40s, hoping he’ll have other stuff to do by then.
"38 doesn’t actually that sound bad," said Hamilton when speaking to the media after the renewal was confirmed.
"I was with my friend the other day back home and I think he’s 40. He’s married with kids and living a different life.
"When I’m 38, there’s going to be a point in which I’m going to want to move on to do different things.’’
"I guess it just always comes down to how... I never do anything half-arsed and I’m not going to do it at 80%, 70% and just trundle along. There are people who can do that; I’m only here to win.
"If there’s ever a point that I feel I don’t want to commit the time or the effort, the mental time and the energy that it takes, that will be the time to stop.
"But I don't plan to be here until I'm 40. I hope I have something else exciting to do beyond.
"Regardless, no matter what time you stop, I'm going to miss this sport... I’m going to miss the competing side of it for sure."
The four-time defending World Champion went into detail about the constant struggle to get everything right every weekend and how he’s excited to see the closeness of the field in 2021.
"When we got to 100 poles [at the Spanish Grand Prix], it definitely kind of gets like ‘jeez... wow, what’s next?’ said Hamilton.
"But as I said, I’m constantly being challenged; it’s never easy. We’re constantly having to push ourselves and elevate.
"It’s a constant struggle within this sport: trying to get the car right each weekend, trying to understand the tyres, trying to understand the aero configuration; each track is different, each compound is different at different tracks and different surfaces.
"You’ve got young cats coming through doing great, Red Bull who’ve got an amazing package this year, you’ve got McLaren who’ve really progressed so well and I’m so happy for them.
"It’s exciting, it’s the closest pack that we’ve probably ever had. I’m excited to see what the next year holds and I hope that remains the same in terms of closeness.
Hamilton currently trails championship leader Max Verstappen by 32 points as the Dutchman has won four of the last five races to take control of the 2021 title battle at present.
The 36-year-old says the wheel-to-wheel racing with Verstappen early in the season was very exciting and reinvigorated his love for Formula One.
“At the start of this season, when the cars were so close in performance, pretty much equal, then it was really one of the most exciting times that I’ve had for some time, to be able to have this battle for Red Bull,” Hamilton said.
“Honestly I was really hoping that it would continue on like that through the rest of the year, but as you’ve seen, they’ve taken a huge leap forwards.
“We’re always in different places in our lives, and it’s important that we take time to evaluate. It’s important that we do what’s right for us in terms of health and mental wellbeing. It’s always a good time to try and reflect and see what’s next. I found myself just waking up, thinking about racing. So I wanted to continue to race.
“And now we’re having this tight battle, yeah, it’s brought me closer to the team, it’s brought me closer to the engineers. It’s making me dig deeper, and I love that.
“I guess it has been reinvigorating the love that I have for this sport and love for what I do.”
Asked about his ‘such a great driver, Lando’ comment during last weekend’s race on team radio, Hamilton added: "Yeah, he’s a great driver.
"It wasn’t about anything we were doing on the track; he did a great job. It’s not easy to have someone like me behind him. He didn’t make any mistakes and he drove fantastically well," Hamilton concluded.