Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has reiterated that there is still a while to go before he decides to call it quits from F1.
Speculation surrounding Hamilton’s future has been mounting since the disappointing nature of the 2022 campaign where he failed to win a race all season for the first time in his career.
Initially, Mercedes got its design wrong, with team boss Toto Wolff admitting that they were ‘enticed’ down the wrong path.
The margin between Mercedes and Red Bull had already become so stark by the midway point of the season that it was next to impossible for the Silver Arrows to target the championship.
Hamilton’s season ended with him coming P6 in the driver’s standings, behind his teammate George Russell.
However, the Stevenage-born driver has insisted that he is still keen on competing at the highest level and wants to leave F1 on a high.
“I think retiring as a world champion is a dream that every athlete has – and so do I,” he said.
“I know how hard it is to be at the top and to stay there. We want to get back to the top.
“We obviously wanted to fight for the world championship last season, but we had to face the reality early in the season. Still, some results felt like victories when they weren’t.
“I appreciate achievements even more now. After the race in Brazil, when George Russell won and I finished second, I was incredibly happy about this team effort.
“We’d had so many hits before that it felt a little empty. We won, but that was expected. That’s weird because it’s actually such a great thing. So it was all the nicer to see how happy we were about the small stages.”
Hamilton was happy with the way the team progressed in the second half of the season.
“The whole team worked great together, even better than before. The year was definitely not a disappointment for me.
“It definitely doesn’t demotivate me,” he said.
“I’m sure I’ve had seasons without a win before – it must have been in karting in 2001.
“What gives us great hope is the end of this season. The last few races have shown a clear positive trend and prove that with perseverance we can achieve anything.
“We fought for fifth place and everyone was excited. Then it was a matter of fourth place and everyone was absolutely thrilled. It was a nice experience to be so happy with a fourth or fifth place.
“Also feeling the feeling of fighting your way forward, of having first, third or second place: We’re almost there. This is something we all needed.”
Will Hamilton retire soon?
With respect to the Mercedes W13, Lewis could finally afford a smile.
“Let’s put it this way: talking also helps in a relationship like this,” he said.
“We understood each other better and better as the season progressed.”
Lewis will be keen to see if Mercedes has done the required groundwork to bridge the gap between itself and the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari.
Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes ends after the 2023 season, but a new deal is believed to be on the table and Lewis himself reportedly has three conditions before he signs.
“We haven’t started with that yet,” Hamilton said.
“So far we haven’t had the time, we’ve been on the road for two months at a time.
“Sometimes you wake up and have this feeling, I don’t want to do this anymore.
“Sometimes you wake up and think, I can still do other things my whole life, there is definitely more I want to achieve.
“It won’t be a terribly long time now, but I’ll definitely be staying.”