Lewis Hamilton has described his relation with Formula 1 as a love-hate story, after he decided to extend his stay with Mercedes for two more years.
Hamilton took his time to put pen to paper for a new contract extension with Mercedes, and with that done, the seven-time Champion will now be racing an F1 car at the age of 41, contrary to his previous claims that he won’t be driving in top flight when he’s 40.
That statement was brought to Hamilton’s attention by Blick‘s Roger Benoit in a recent interview, to which he responded: “I have to admit that I underestimated my love for this sport.
“But it’s become a love-hate story. There are days when I would prefer not to get into the cockpit,” he added.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said ahead of the 2023 F1 season that Hamilton’s new contract would be sorted out over the winter break, but both parties took their time before inking the new deal, opening the door wide for speculation regarding the Mercedes ace’s future.
However, in August the agreement was finally reached and Hamilton gave some insights on why negotiations took so much time, revealing it was about ensuring he has as much freedom as possible.
“This isn’t the first time the two of us have discussed and haggled over details for hours,” the Briton said of his talks with Wolff. “Always under the motto: From Thursday to Sunday I belong exclusively to Formula 1.
“There are so many details about my promotional activities. I’m in a fortunate position with Toto. He is respected and admired by everyone. It’s easy to negotiate with him. And that makes him a great leader,” he explained.
The winner of 103 grands prix also revealed he reads his contracts thoroughly, he said: “I want to know exactly what’s in there. But now it’s over 200 pages or a damn book. And that takes you days!”
Hamilton has been powered by Mercedes power ever since he joined F1 with McLaren in 2007, and revealed he did “not really” think about switching, but admitted to some “irrelevant” talks with Ferrari.
There were some irrelevant talks with Ferrari
“We’ve definitely had a few irrelevant conversations,” he said of Ferrari. “I know a lot of good people there. But I never felt ready to move to Italy.”
After finishing fifth at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton expressed his frustration with his W14, adding that Mercedes had crucial six months of development to come up with a decent W15 for 2024.
Asked during the Blick interview how he gets the motivation to driver his W14 for six more races in 2023, Hamilton said: “I try to push myself to the limit in every race and believe in my team.
“But it’s true: If you don’t feel the balance in the car, your willingness to take risks becomes smaller,” he maintained.
“I hope that the amount of data we have collected so far this year will have an impact on the new car. That is the hope of the entire Mercedes team in all factories. We all have to always believe in our goals. And never give up.
“We’ll be coming back. We can do it,” the 39-year-old vowed when asked about his winning drought. “The next step to the top podium will come. And it will probably be my greatest triumph in my career.”
Hamilton admitted that “without a great car you can hardly achieve the big goals in Formula 1” but insisted an eighth Drivers’ Crown will not be the signal for him to stop.
“I never said that the eighth title was a stop signal for me. But I’ll only know that when I actually get there,” the 104-time pole-sitter concluded.
Big Question: Can Lewis Hamilton win an eighth Formula 1 Title?