Lewis Hamilton has been backed to quit F1 bang on time, unlike the legendary Michael Schumacher. The Brit recently won a seventh title in the sport, the same amount the German managed throughout his career. And Martin Brundle thinks the 35-year-old will quit at the right time.
Hamilton is poised to agree a new Mercedes contract, with the Brit determined to achieve more F1 glory before quitting the sport.
Schumacher himself was devastating during his time with Ferrari but, after returning to the sport having previously retired, wasn’t the same.
And Brundle can see Hamilton calling time on his F1 career at the right time, telling Sky Sports: “My gut feeling is he’ll stop a year early rather than a year late.
“He’s not going to hang on until the bitter end for a few more dollars, or just to be a Formula 1 driver, and nor will he need to.
“He’s obviously got other ambitions in his life, but I can’t imagine why he would stop in the next five years, or certainly three. Why would he?”
Brundle can’t see any signs of deterioration in Hamilton, saying: “His eyesight, his reactions, nothing has fallen away.
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“If you’re going to start fading, you’re on a gentle slope. And he doesn’t appear to have started that slope yet.
“Michael was in his 40s when he retired and he started making a lot of mistakes, and most of us did – you start having crashes at the end and you don’t know why that happened. That’s what it looks like Sebastian is to me, right now.
“Lewis has not got to that point, and nothing has been his match.”
Brundle believes Hamilton’s lack of mistakes set him apart from other drivers, adding: “I think what has stood out about Lewis over the years is how few mistakes he makes, how complete he is, and clean.
“He’s a clean racing driver which I think is a very important point.
“His work rate is also incredible, and that’s something you hear up and down the paddock. And his motivation.
“When you’ve got all of that success, money, and a trophy cabinet like that, to keep the motivation is super impressive.
“And he just never makes a mistake. In wheel-to-wheel combat, in qualifying… he’s 35, going on 25. He just doesn’t fade, mentally or physically.”
Brundle also expressed a belief that Hamilton was so good that the intensity of his battles with Nico Rosberg sparked the German into retirement.
“If you look back at 2016, take away the engine failure in Malaysia and it would have been a whole new ball game,” he said.
“He’d given it absolutely everything he’d got in an and out of the car.
“Fighting, let alone beating, Lewis was incredibly tough. I think that’s why he stopped just after he won the championship.”
Hamilton recently won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award and was delighted in the aftermath, saying: “I want to say congratulations to all the incredible nominees I’m so proud of what they have achieved.
“I want to say thank you to everyone that has voted for me. I wasn’t expecting this knowing there’s so many great contenders.
“I want to say Merry Christmas to everyone – it’s been such an unusual year and I want to mention all the front line workers and all the children round the world, I want you to try and stay positive through this difficult time, I’m sending you all positivity.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”