Lewis Hamilton insists his time in Formula One is not over, but still refused to commit to a definitive answer as to if we will see him continue in the sport past 2021.
The seven-time world champion opted for just a one-year contract extension with Mercedes last month, sparking much speculation that he may step away from the sport if he were to win a record-breaking eighth world title, overtaking Michael Schumacher.
However, the 36-year-old has said any decision to continue will not be based solely on whether he breaks the all-time record of championship victories.
“In the current position I am in, I don’t feel like this is the end,” explained Hamilton. “Of course we’ve got these changes that are happening next year, which are exciting.
“I think this looks like it could be the most exciting season yet, we’ve got new teams, we’ve got new new formats and it’s closer. I don’t feel like I am at the end, but the next eight months or so will let me know, I’ll find out if I will stop or not.
“I don’t feel I will personally, but you never know.”
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Hamilton’s contract saga dominated F1 news during the winter, as contract negotiations rumbled on between the Brit and team boss Toto Wolff.
Hamilton finally signed his new Mercedes contract early this year, more than a month after his previous deal expired.
And he reiterated his position that results this season, with Red Bull a real threat to Mercedes’ status as world champions, will not impact his decision.
He added: “The position I’m in has nothing to do with if we are or we are not winning a championship. I don’t quit when the going gets tough.
“I wanted a one-year deal, and yes I said to Toto [Wolff] it would be good if we are to work on the future together, we should talk about it much earlier than January, just before season testing starts.
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“I am fully committed to this sport. This sport, I think, is in the best place it’s been in terms of the steps we’re taking. I’m really proud of what F1 is doing in terms of acknowledging they have a great platform to work towards a better world, and I love what I’m doing. I’ve arrived more excited than I have in a long time.
“We’re going to have a really great battle one way or another and that’s what I’ve always loved.”
And after struggling for much of pre-season testing in Bahrain at the beginning of the month, Mercedes head into the opening race of the F1 season on the backfoot, with Red Bull looking like a formidable threat.
However Hamilton believes the team are a strong position to go racing come Sunday in Bahrain.
He said: “I think we are in the best shape we can possibly be in considering we only had three days of testing. There’s been a huge amount of analysis. The engineers, the guys back at the factory, there’s a huge amount of data from everyone, naturally.
“Every team has to do it, to try and understand, churn the numbers in that crunch time and make improvements in that short period we’ve had. I think we come here positive.”
And as for who is a title threat in 2021, Hamilton shrugged and replied: “Unknown really.
“We’re going to find out when we start going out. I think there’s multiple teams that are looking really strong. Absolutely [it’s going to be closer than last year].”