Has Lewis Hamilton really hinted he could quit F1 at the end of 2017?
Lewis' Sunday night remarks cause a stir as he refuses to rule out hanging up his gloves - but also makes clear he's never been happier
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 18/07/17 3:37pm
Lewis Hamilton has hinted he could quit Formula 1 at the end of the season...or has he?
The Mercedes driver declined to definitively rule out he will leave the sport at the end of 2017 F1 season just hours after winning the British GP to close the gap to title leader Sebastian Vettel to just one point.
"I can't really say what is going to happen six months from now," said Hamilton when asked about his future in his post-race media briefing.
When asked to clarify his remarks, Hamilton stressed: "I love driving and you could say it [retiring] is very unlikely, I'm just saying that you don't know what frame of mind I am going to be at Christmas time. Hopefully it's a really good one with a fourth title."
But Hamilton also gave no indication that quitting F1 was on his mind.
"Apart from being with my family, the happiest moment I ever have is when I have the car on a knife-edge," the three-time world champion said.
Hamilton had been asked about his future in the immediate televised press conference after Sunday's race.
"At the moment I'm loving driving," Hamilton replied. "I feel like I'm at my prime. I feel like I'm driving better than ever and I'm loving driving with the team. So I can't imagine...there is no current reason to want to have to stop.
"I'm still enjoying it and I still have a contract with the team for at least a year so I plan to see that out at the moment."
What exactly did Hamilton say on Sunday night?
"In terms of the contract and stuff, I can't really say what is going to happen six months from now. All l do know is that I am loving racing and I really, really do feel within myself that I am driving better than ever. I think I may have said that in the past, perhaps with less conviction, but within myself I know that right now I am at my best. I want to stay there, so I will continue to prepare the best way I can - and only I know how to prepare myself."
Asked to clarify what he meant by his reference to 'six months', Hamilton replied:
"I just meant that in life you don't know what is going to happen. Right now I love driving. You could say that it is very unlikely, because I am always going to like driving and doing crazy stuff, I'm just saying that you don't know what frame of mind I am going to be in at Christmas time. Hopefully it's a really good one with a fourth title. Even if I do get another championship, it would never be a case of 'now it's time to hang up my gloves'. I will always want to win more even when I do stop. The focus at the moment is just getting that fourth."
How Hamilton's remarks have been interpreted
Did Hamilton sound like a driver considering retirement?
To that particular question the answer can only be an emphatic 'no'.
Speaking inside the Mercedes hospitality unit with around 20 journalists present, Hamilton was relaxed, euphoric and appreciative, stressing not only his gratitude to the Silverstone crowd but also to his Mercedes team.
Hamilton still has eighteen months left on his Mercedes deal and has spoken repeatedly in recent weeks about the strength of his relationship both with the team and his boss, Toto Wolff.
In his own briefing earlier on Sunday night, Wolff had himself dismissed rumours linking his star driver with Ferrari.
"What he [Hamilton] has said is that he is a Ferrari fan, like we all are," said the Mercedes chief. "It is a team every driver dreams of driving for.
"He is in a very good place and he drives the fastest car at the moment and that is a Mercedes. He has a contract which goes for one and a half more years, and we have had the best dynamic in the team so far, so all the talk outside has zero relevance."
On Saturday, Wolff had told Sky Sports News: "We are having a really good relationship and talking about the future, albeit this is a very tough championship so we are concentrating on the weekends.
"Lewis is very much linked to Mercedes, and we love him as a driver, and I think the same for us is valid for him, we are going to try to find an agreement for the future."
Talk of Hamilton quitting F1 also surfaced before the Azerbaijan GP when the 31-year-old was quoted as saying "my destiny is in my own hands. I can decide to stop at the end of this year".
But when he arrived in Baku, Hamilton told reporters: "I don't really remember discussing that. That's not something I'm thinking about right now."
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