Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team are confident their star driver will not do the unthinkable and quit Formula One next month.
As members of the sport’s all-conquering team cracked open the champagne on a charter flight from Bologna to Birmingham to celebrate their historic seventh consecutive constructors’ championship, Hamilton headed home to Monaco, hours after suggesting this might be his 14th and final season in the sport.
The six-time world champion, who will secure a record-equalling seventh title if he wins the Turkish Grand Prix a week on Sunday, is out of contract at the end of the season.
And speaking after his triumph at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola – one that moved the Englishman 85 points clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the standings with just 104 remaining – he said: “I don’t know If I am going to be here next year. I would like to be, but there is no guarantee of that. There is a lot that excites me about Formula One’s afterlife.”
However, it is understood that Mercedes expect Hamilton, who turns 36 in January, will put pen to paper on an extension which will allow him to chase a record-breaking eighth title in 2021.
Although Mercedes insist there is no timeframe to completing Hamilton’s new deal – with both parties adamant that formal discussions have not taken place – there is a desire to finalise terms before the end of the calendar year.—AP