Ahead of the season opener in Bahrain, Sir Lewis Hamilton says he is ‘not at all’ thinking about retiring from Formula One at the end of 2023.
Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the season and throughout most of last year, the seven-time world champion and team principal Toto Wolff repeatedly claimed the were working on extending his stay.
However, given how long these talks have taken, combined with the 38-year-old enduring the worst year of his career in 2022, many have speculated that the British sporting legend could be at the end of the road.
Former British champions Damon Hill and Jenson Button have been among those speculating that Mercedes’ recent poor performance, which looks to be continuing into this season, may be leading Hamilton to stall on signing a new contract with the team he has driven for since 2013.
But on Thursday, Hamilton firmly shut down all retirement talk, saying: ‘It is ultimately people creating rumours without facts, and it is never helpful. You would have thought that they [Hill and Button] would both know me by now.
‘I have been with Mercedes since I was 13, and last year we had a difficult year, but I am still here, and whether or not we have a difficult year this year, I will still be here.
‘I am a fighter and we fight as a team. I love the challenge of finding solutions and I still believe I am able to put the car in places that perhaps others are not able to. I love that challenge.
‘Of course I wish we started the season with a great car but it is the journey that really counts.
‘There is no hold-up with our contract. I have always been very, very relaxed and I don’t feel like I have to get it done right this second. I am in a very fortunate position.
‘I am really excited about the future together and really proud of the work we are doing, on and off the track and the potential of new things that we can do moving forward.
‘It will get done when we are ready. I have a great relationship with Toto and with Mercedes and we fully support each other.
‘We will get there, unless something catastrophic happens between me and Toto and we get in the (boxing) ring, but other than that we are good.’
Hamilton has won six of his seven titles with Mercedes as well as 82 of his record 103 wins, including five at the Bahrain International Circuit.
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