Lewis Hamilton: “I didn’t see a reason to stop”

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Lewis Hamilton talks about the reasons why he decided to sign a two-year contract extension with Mercedes, but adds he doesn’t plan to race until he is 40.

The wait is over. Lewis Hamilton has signed a contract extension with Mercedes for two-years. Although Lewis’ extension for 2021 was announced very late, in February of 2021, this latest deal has been signed very early.

“It was a lot smoother than it was in December and January,” Hamilton explained.

“I had a lot on over Christmas and New Year, it was a stressful period. And naturally we were doing this over Zoom, which is not always the most productive when you’re having these conversations.

“I think this one was much, much easier. Toto and I spent a lot more time together, face to face.

“The past contract, the one in January, it was meant to be a two-year deal – it was potentially going to be a two-year deal.

“And I asked for it to be a one-year, because I knew that obviously we’d been through a pandemic, and there was so much change in the world.

“And also, I was unsure of whether I would continue or not. I started off the year, I had the best and most enjoyable start to the year, enjoyed the rollercoaster ride that we’re having.

“I think it was really the best thing was to be able to get this done before the summer break, which is obviously next month. So now we can just focus on being the best team we can be.”

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However, Lewis says his unresolved contract situation was not a distraction so far in 2021.

“I don’t find it as a distraction. I think in the past, I remember times we didn’t want to do it during the season, because it’s stressful to have those conversations.

“But it’s been a much, much better process this time, and it’s happened real quick. Toto was fantastic in the negotiations. Ola [Kallenius] and the [Daimler] board have been incredibly supportive.

“And you know, we’ve just continued to grow in our relationship and how we communicate, and making sure that we’re aligned.

“It’s a great commitment from them and a great commitment I think from myself to continue to stay aligned with Mercedes, knowing the things that we face moving forwards, and the changes and improvements we can make.”

The Briton goes on to explain what led to his decision to stay with Mercedes and in Formula 1 for at least two more years.

“I think 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 well-being.

“At the end of last year… It’s a long, long, long journey, and I think 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, 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.

“I’ve been a part of the start of that, and I want to continue forwards with that. I love working with this team, I feel constantly challenged.

“And I think we’re being challenged more than ever this year, which I think is great. And I love racing. This is what I was born to do. And I still feel fit, I still feel as committed as ever. So I didn’t see a reason to stop.”

By the time this latest contract expires Hamilton will be 38, so he is aware that at one point he will have to decide to call it quits. However, for now he is completely energized and ready to face all challenges.

“It kind of gets to ‘jeez, what’s next?’ I am constantly being challenged, it’s never easy.

“We are constantly having to push ourselves and elevate, and 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 config, each track is different, each compound is different at different tracks and different surfaces.

“You’ve got young cats coming through doing great. You’ve got Red Bull who have just got an amazing package this year.

“You’ve got McLaren, who have really progressed so well and I am so happy for them. It’s exciting – it’s the closest pack probably we’ve ever had.

“I am excited to see what the next year holds in terms of I hope that it remains the same in terms of closeness.

“When I am 38, there’s going to be a point in which I am going to want to move on to do different things…

“I never do anything half-arsed so I am not going to do it at 80%, 70% and just trundle along like there are people that can do that. I am only here to win.

“If there’s ever a point that I feel that I don’t want to commit the time or the effort, the mental time and energy that it takes, then that will be the time for me to stop.

“I don’t plan to be here until I am 40. I hope I have something else exciting to do beyond, but regardless, no matter what time you stop, I am going to miss this sport and the competing side of it for sure,” concluded the seven-time world champion.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff adds that quitting Formula 1 after this season was “never an option” for Lewis.

“I think… he never wanted to stop competing in F1, but obviously you must always have options and stopping was never an option,” said the Austrian.

“So it seemed pretty clear that we were continuing but he was well informed and well aware of what is happening around the 2021 car.

“He knows our structure and has the confidence in what we do and even if it is difficult like, for example, today, there is still the pace in each other going forward.”

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