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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he wants to continue driving for the Silver Arrows in Formula 1 beyond the 2024 season.
The seven-time World Champion’s contract was set to run out at the end of next season; however, the Brit has now revealed that he doesn’t feel that he “should stop” and wants to extend his stay on the F1 grid.
In a small group interview at the US Grand Prix, Hamilton revealed Mercedes‘ struggles so far this season as well as his plans for the future.
“We are going to do another deal,” said Hamilton.
“We’re going to sit down and we’re going to discuss it in these next couple of months.
“My goal is to continue to be with Mercedes. I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13. And it really is my family. Mercedes-Benz have stuck with me through thick and thin.
“They stuck with me through being expelled at school. They stuck with me through everything that was going on through 2020 [and his determination to raise issues of diversity and inclusion in F1]. They’ve stuck me through my mistakes and with me through the ups and downs.
“And so I really believe in this brand. I believe in the people that are within the organisation. And I want to be the best teammate I can be to them, because I think we can make the brand even better, more accessible, even stronger than it is. And I think I can be an integral part of that.
“In terms of my plans for the future… Each year, at the end of the year, you sit there and I’m trying to, like, analyse my year and analyse my next three- to five-year plan. It’s difficult to do ten.
“But where do I see myself? What are the things I want to do? What are my goals? And things are being added. I have a lot of business going on. I have a lot of successful, really positive things that have lots of opportunity for success outside.
“But I want to keep racing. I love what I do. I’ve been doing it for 30 years, and I don’t feel that I should have to stop. I think I’m currently still earning my keep, I would say. I want to do better, still.
“I could stop now and I have lots of other things that I have in the pipeline that I will be super-focused and super-busy.
“I’m here for the sheer love of working in the organisation that I’m in. So, yeah, you’re going to have to stick with me. You are stuck with me for quite a bit longer.”
Coming back stronger
Hamilton endured a tough season last year which saw his record-breaking eighth World Championship ripped away from him when Max Verstappen won the 2021 season on the last lap in Abu Dhabi. The controversial season finale saw Hamilton disappear for two months.
“Was I ever truly not going to come back? I am not one to give up like that, really,” he said.
“What really was breaking was to just believe that the sport would do something like that, that that would happen, given that there are so many people you rely on. You expect that the job would be done right.
“And [that] an outcome of a world championship which so many people have worked so hard for would come out through a wrong decision from somebody, you know?
“That was probably the only thing. It wasn’t for my lack of love for working with my team or racing cars; it was literally that.
“If you can lose a championship through wrongdoing within an organisation, that was the thing that I wondered whether…
“But I spent time with my family and that was really the best part of the healing, really. I just gave all of my time to the kids [his nephews and nieces], building snowmen and just being present with them. That enabled me to really recover, really bounce back. If I wasn’t with them, I would have been stuck in a hole.”
Hamilton also described the rocky road he encountered once he decided to return.
“I would say getting back into training was not easy,” he says. “It’s not like you can just say, okay, right, ‘motivation is there.’ It definitely took a minute for me to build back in.
“Come back stronger – and that’s why I came back with fighting mentality. But then we had all the dramas with the car.”
The “dramas” that Hamilton is referring to are the fact that Mercedes had not adapted well to the new regulations, arguably producing their worst car in the past decade, the W13 suffered immensely from an aerodynamic flaw which saw the car porpoise. Once the Silver Arrows finally cleaned up that mess with the help of some safety regulations from the FIA, more problems emerged.
Despite Mercedes’ woeful car, the German manufacturers only trail Ferrari by 50 points in the Constructors’ Championship. The car has seen significant improvement which saw Hamilton battling for a race victory at the US Grand Prix. However, the Brit still describes pushing the W13 to its limit is “like creeping up behind a horse”.
“That’s one of the best ways I can say what it’s like when you’re trying to lean on the car and it’s snapping and unrecoverable. And this car, it’s random.”
Hamilton revealed that attempting to fix the car’s problems has been “gruelling” for everyone at Mercedes.
“We sat in February and we were all upbeat,” he said.
“They were all telling us we were gonna have a massively quick car.
“And I’m sure everyone who was working on it was so hyped with all the hard work they put in through the winter – it’s such a gruelling time for everyone in the team; that’s when they really crunch and out in the crazy hours.
“To then find out the damn thing doesn’t work, and we’ve got bouncing, that was hard for everybody.
“Everyone was really struggling, I think.
“And we all went through our own process of how to deal with it. But I think surprisingly it’s been a really powerful transformational time for us all. We’ve got stronger and tighter as a team.”
Hamilton opened up on pre-season testing, admitting that he didn’t have a good feeling about the car this year. However, the F1 world took his words with a pinch of salt due to the fact that the 37-year-old seems to say the same thing every year.
“I had a feeling when I first drove the car – but you can never say never. Maybe we would have fixed it by the first race. Who knows?” Hamilton said.
“Plus, I’d never had bouncing like that. I didn’t expect the guys to take as long… They didn’t expect it to take as long as it’s taken them to understand what’s causing the bouncing. They’ve had to create new tools, all these things we didn’t have before.
“You just hold on to hope. And then the next upgrade comes and it doesn’t work, and the next one comes and doesn’t work.
“Imagine people that are building those things and they are seeing performance in the wind tunnel but they are not seeing it on the track. Ah Jesus, you just keep getting knocked back down.
“But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and we’re still standing tall. It’s not going to be easy to change the car into a leading car for next year but I think we have a much better understanding of why the car is the way it is.”
Mercedes and Hamilton will be looking to shrink the gap to Ferrari at this weekend’s race when Formula 1 heads across the border for the Mexican Grand Prix.
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