Hamilton: Not planning on going anywhere, any time soon

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Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton told reporters at Suzuka he did not plan on retiring from the pinnacle of the sport any time soon.

Mercedes driver Hamilton, who signed a two-year contract extension with the Brackley-based team last year until the end of 2023, was speaking on Thursday ahead of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton said he would race beyond the end of that deal: “I plan on staying longer, it’s just not set in stone how long.” Adding that he definitely wanted to remain with Mercedes – who have powered his F1 cars since his debut in 2007 – in some role for life.

Team boss Toto Wolff in an interview with Channel 4 that aired over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend said Hamilton, who turns 38 in January, had told him he could go on for another five years with Mercedes.

Hamilton, who made his debut in 2007 with McLaren before moving to Mercedes at the end of 2012, on Thursday said he hadn’t spoken to Wolff about his comments but that it was a possibility.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “I love what I’m doing. We have a lot of work to do, still a lot to achieve. So I’m not planning on going anywhere, any time soon.”

Lewis: There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done in this sport

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Hamilton’s run of four successive F1 titles came to an end last year when Red Bull rival Max Verstappen denied him an unprecedented eighth championship on the last lap of a controversial season finale.

The 37-year-old hasn’t been in the hunt this year and is still searching for his first win to add to his record 103-victory career haul, with Mercedes having been caught out by the rule changes introduced this season.

Hamilton, a vocal advocate of environmental causes, human rights, social justice, equality and diversity said his main motivation behind continuing would remain fighting for wins and championships.

But he also wanted to carry on so he could continue to make the sport more inclusive: “There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done in this sport. I can’t retire now because I’m only just embarking to help shift and create a more open and inclusive environment here in this sport and I’ve got to stay to help that continue.”

Ahead of the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix weekend, F1 stats show that Hamilton has made 305 F1 starts, 103 times from pole position, winning 103 times while finishing on the podium on a further 85 occasions. (Reporting by Abhishek Takle)