JANUARY 25, 2024
Hamilton not ruling out future F1 comeback
Lewis Hamilton, who has just turned 39, is not ruling out retirement from Formula 1 in the coming years - but could also imagine a "sabbatical" or comeback.
The seven time world champion's long and speculation-filled contract negotiations last year ultimately ended with just a two-year extension - taking him only to the end of the current rules era in late 2025.
His record-matching run of titles ended in great controversy with the hotly-contested run-in with Max Verstappen in 2021, and the Red Bull driver has gone on to begin his own title-winning streak ever since.
When asked by the Dutch magazine Formule 1 what he has to say about Verstappen's streak, Hamilton answered:
I would say 'keep doing what you're doing'. He's doing great.
Indeed, 26-year-old Verstappen is regarded as arguably the best driver in F1 alongside the sport's oldest two characters - Hamilton (39) and Fernando Alonso (42).
I think Max and Fernando have one thing in common with me, Hamilton said. "We are all extremely competitive. We go to great lengths to achieve what we want.
I can't say much about what they are like as people though. I only know them from the Formula 1 world - it's not like I go and visit them.
Some believe Hamilton intends to quit Formula 1 as soon as he wins his eighth title - setting a clear record for the most titles won by any driver.
I've never said an eighth title would be the end point, the Briton smiles. "But I don't know what comes next after Formula 1.
"I don't necessarily feel like I'd want to stay active in Formula 1, but never say never. But I can't imagine not driving anymore and still being in the pit box somewhere.
I'd just be thinking 'I could have stuck with it another year'. So it would probably be better to take a sabbatical and then see if I want to come back.
Perhaps Hamilton's closest-ever friend in F1, Sebastian Vettel, has been hinting recently about doing just that - coming back to the cockpit after a break.
It didn't surprise me, because you see it more often with retired drivers now, Hamilton said. "Fernando came back, Michael Schumacher did too. I've also seen it with athletes from other sports and have spoken to a few about it.
They said 'You lose something you've done all your life. Suddenly it's gone'. I can imagine it's an incredible hole to fall into.