All Lewis Hamilton asks if for people not to look too much into his current one-year Formula 1 deal to drive for Mercedes.
The seven-time champion Hamilton on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s F1 Bahrain Grand Prix hit back at the notion that his mere one-year contract could mean he’s planning on leaving Mercedes, or even the series, following the 2021 campaign.
“The one-year contract, which is what I wanted, doesn’t mean I’m tired. I don’t run away when the going gets tough,” Hamilton, 36, said. “I am fully committed to this sport.”
“We have got regulation changes happening next year which are exciting, and this season could be the most exciting yet. We have new teams, new formats, and it is closer. Over the next eight months or so, I will find out if I am ready to stop, but I don’t think I will.”
Plenty of laps under the floodlights on Friday evening, with Max and Lando leading the way 💡#BahrainGP 🇧🇭 #F1 pic.twitter.com/Zozj4MeMwO
Hamilton, who was third quickest in Friday’s second of two practice sessions, also said his decision will have nothing to do with whether he wins a record eighth world title this season. And eighth championship would break the record Hamilton shares with Michael Schumacher.
This week in Bahrain, McLaren Racing chief executive officer Zak Brown said that he thinks Mercedes will head into 2022 with an all-new driver lineup—Max Verstappen alongside George Russell.
Verstappen has heard the rumors.
“Red Bull is the team that gave me the chance to get into Formula 1 at a very young age,” Verstappen told De Limburger newspaper in Bahrain when asked about the Mercedes rumors. “I would like to reward that trust. At the moment I don’t see any reason not to remain loyal to Red Bull Racing.”
Much more open about his Mercedes-bound ambitions is 23-year-old Russell, who so impressed when he was called up from his regular Williams seat to substitute for the ill Hamilton late last season. Russell was asked by Kronen Zeitung newspaper if he has caught up with Hamilton since that replacement drive in Bahrain.
“We haven’t spoken to each other at all since then,” Russell said. “But our relationship is good—we don’t have any problems with each other. Honestly, I don’t know what he could have said after the race. I don’t know how I would have felt if someone had done a race in my Williams seat.”
Russell’s relationship with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is clearly a better one.
“My relationship with Mercedes and Toto Wolff is stronger than ever,” Russell said, according to Italy’s Mediaset. “They know my situation. They know I want to fight for victories and the championship. They saw what I can do in Bahrain. So I just have to focus on myself. I don’t need to stress them.
“In the past I tried to force things, but it’s different now. I’ve been a Mercedes driver for six years. They are my second family and, if it is going to happen, it will happen naturally.”
Russell is expecting the uncertainty about Mercedes’ driver situation to be clear by the summer break.
“I’m sure the story will have a satisfactory outcome for all the parties involved—Mercedes, Williams and the drivers,” Russell said. “I am getting stronger year after year and I think I am at a level where I can fight for wins and the title. But let’s see. Formula 1 is an unpredictable business so it’s better not to take anything for granted.”
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