Damon Hill has suggested that Lewis Hamilton may be considering retirement, as the seven-time Formula One world champion has yet to renew his contract with Mercedes.
Although Hamilton is expected to compete in the upcoming 2023 season, he has not committed to a return in 2024.
Hamilton missed out on a fifth consecutive Drivers’ Championship in 2021, struggling with car problems that prevented him from mounting a serious title challenge.
Despite a stronger finish to the season, Hill believes that Hamilton may be starting to contemplate retirement.
Hill, who won the championship in 1996, believes that Hamilton may retire if he secures a record-breaking eighth championship in 2023.
In an article for The Telegraph, Hill wrote, “How does a driver know when it’s time to go? If this is not a question Lewis Hamilton is pondering very hard at the moment, it is certainly one he’s going to be asked at an uncomfortably increasing rate as the clock ticks down on his stellar career.”
Hamilton is now 38 years old and will begin his 17th season in Formula One. His contract stand-off with Mercedes has fueled speculation about his future, with some reports suggesting that he may be considering retirement or a move to another team.
“As far as we know, he has no contract for 2024. The game of ‘guess what number I’m thinking of’ will be being played between him and Toto Wolff as the races count down this season.
“If he wins that fiendishly elusive eighth world title, will he plant his flag on the summit of F1 record books and call it a day? Or if he doesn’t win, will he press on in hope, vain or otherwise?
“For my part, I remember arriving in Melbourne at the beginning of the 1999 season and looking around at all the other drivers and thinking ‘They’re all 20 years younger than me! Would I be going to a party with guys 20 years younger than me? Probably not!’
“I just didn’t want to be the ‘old guy’. I had seen that happen to my Dad. He raced into his 40s and I vividly recall towards the end of his career all the talk about his age.”
Damon Hill, the former Formula One driver, is suggesting that Lewis Hamilton may be contemplating retirement as his contract negotiations with Mercedes remain unresolved.
Although Hamilton is yet to commit to a return to F1 in 2024, Hill believes that Hamilton may be considering when the right time to step away from the sport is.
Hill, who won his F1 championship with Williams-Renault in 1996, explained that he stepped away from the sport at the age of 38 after his team declined to renew his contract, whereas his father continued on until his mid-forties.
However, Hill believes that Hamilton may not want to continue in F1 if his team are not competitive. The former F1 driver suggests that Hamilton may be waiting to see how Mercedes’ new W14 car performs before deciding his future.
“At 38, Lewis is obviously getting on in terms of years, but he remains as quick as ever,” Hill continued for The Telegraph. “And as fit. With the way the drivers look after themselves these days, and power steering in the cars, I don’t believe there is any physical reason he could not carry on driving well into his 40s if he was motivated to do so. Fernando Alonso is living proof of that.
“The question is, what is keeping him here? Is it just about getting that eighth title? Will he retire if he does it? Or is it because he wants to keep racing for the love of it? Personally I can’t see Lewis driving around in circles trying to pick off podium places, as Fernando has been forced to resign himself to.
“Whatever the reason, Hamilton is out of contract at the end of this season. And it is going to be fascinating to see his next move. While both he and Mercedes have been saying for months that he plans to carry on, the fact remains that with less than a week until the first race of the year on March 5, nothing has yet been announced. It begs the question, why?
“One possible explanation is that both sides are waiting to see just how competitive Mercedes are before committing to a new deal. If they start 2023 miles off the pace, perhaps Lewis will be less minded to sign a new long-term deal?
“I don’t think anyone outside of Lewis and Mercedes know the answers to these questions but one thing we do know is it’s a critical moment in the career of one of the sport’s all-time greats.”