Lewis Hamilton is not ruling out following former team-mate Nico Rosberg into retirement at the end of the 2017 season, claiming it would not change his “legacy”.
The three-time world champion’s current Mercedes contract expires in 2018, though he has previously claimed he envisaged signing one more contract in Formula 1 that would see him compete well into his late thirties.
However, speaking to the FIA’s official in-house magazine Auto, Hamilton admitted he didn’t think his standing in the sport would be affected if he were to walk away this year.
“My destiny is in my own hands. I can decide to stop at the end of this year,” the 32-year-old said. “Does that mean my legacy is less great than it would be if I stop in five years’ time? Who’s to say?
“I don’t like to plan for it because I don’t know what’s around the corner, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Whatever I know I’m going to do, if I apply myself the way I’ve always applied myself in my racing and I apply it to anything else I want to do in life, or even if it’s still in racing, I feel I can achieve great things.
“I’m never going to stop pushing the limits of whatever it is I do with myself and I’m always going to strive for greatness in whatever world it is that I’m in. So I think that mission or that mentality will create my legacy.”
Rosberg and Hamilton were team-mates for four years at Mercedes before the German left at the end of last season after claiming his first world championship. And referencing Rosberg’s retirement earlier this year, Hamilton said: “I can empathise, and really understand in some ways, the feeling of wanting to stop and do something different.
“Every now and then I have a thought of what I will do after Formula One. Then I see that car and I am like, ‘I think I am going to stay’. I don’t know how long I will stay, but I am still competitive, still hungry and still driving at my best.”
Hamilton has also claimed he sees no major difference between the 2016 and 2017 cars apart from speed despite F1’s vast regulation changes.
He did, however, admit he was thoroughly enjoying the “awesome” competition the current season has brought, with the Briton just 12 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel after Ferrari’s improvement.