Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

Hamilton: Thought of retiring from F1 is “scary”

2019 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton described his Formula 1 achievements so far as an unfinished masterpiece and isn’t prepared to contemplate retiring from the sport yet.

After winning his sixth world championship title on Sunday, Hamilton said he “doesn’t fancy retiring right now” and indicated he wants to continue in the sport after his current contract expires at the end of the 2020 F1 season.

“It’s a scary thought that one day we athletes have to hang up [and] stop doing what we’ve loved our whole lives,” said Hamilton in a Mercedes video.

“I don’t know if I’ve quite hit my peak yet but obviously I’m nearby. And I feel energised, I feel like I could still run a marathon right now. I feel like I’ve still got more to do.”

In addition to his six world titles Hamilton has amassed 83 race wins. He is closing on the all-time records for both, held by Michael Schumacher, who won seven championships and 91 races.

“I really like the idea of thinking of an artist creating a masterpiece,” said Hamilton. “Ultimately what I do is an art form. That’s the idea in my mind that I’m trying to create a masterpiece and it’s still not finished quite yet.

“How I get to that point I don’t quite yet know. I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, a lot of focus. It’s going to take a lot of help from a lot of great people around me, a lot of great collaboration of hard working people.

“But I’ve done it once, I’ve done it now six times, I know we can do more and I know we can be better so we’re going to keep pushing.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “Hamilton: Thought of retiring from F1 is “scary””

      1. Yes, who wants to watch arguably one of the best drivers who ever lived racing. That’s not what F1 is about is it?

      2. Nope. More years of tears upcoming for you lot.

  1. The Great One has spoken! Now stop with all these retirement predictions, doubters!

    1. The only person who needs to retire is Max Verstappen.

  2. An artist creating a masterpiece?

    I like Lewis a lot but I really hope he doesn’t become F1’s version of Maradonna: an all-time great but deluded by his own success

    1. Actually I liked the idea. It’s really to do with seeing the whole, working on all aspects of his profession. It’s that vision of the while that probably keeps him interested and motivated by pushing forward – where to perfect next – and which makes it so difficult to beat him. I don’t think he means ‘masterpiece’ as in a single work of genius, more like a work you spend much of your time on to perfect. The original source of the term ‘masterpiece’ is interesting: “Originally, the term masterpiece referred to a piece of work produced by an apprentice or journeyman aspiring to become a master craftsman in the old European guild system.” It’s what you did to prove you were worth being a leader of your profession. Kind of what Hamilton is doing.

      1. Ok, in that context you’ve convinced me!

    2. Snorting coke before games didn’t help Maradona. What a player though.

    3. Jose Lopes da Silva
      5th November 2019, 15:30

      Maradona won a World Cup but apart from that, his successes have been meagre. At 34 years old, he was more than done.
      Hamilton’s professionalism put in as the 2nd most titled driver ever. He could retire right now. He says he wants to work more.

      There’s a big fine line between Maradona and Hamilton.

  3. well said David!! just to add i like that Lewis refers to himself as an athlete. and by that logic all f1 and other series racing drivers. indeed they are athletes.

  4. I have an opinion
    5th November 2019, 14:01

    Retirement is scary for many men with an established career — it’s the only thing they like and are good at. Sportsmen face this at a much younger age than most. At least Hamilton does have interests outside his occupation.

  5. A serious discussion. Many sportspeople can end up with depression or other issues when they retire. No longer getting the buzz and very weary from the pressure.
    ex F1 drivers do seem to stay very active though, which is good news all round. He’ll get shed loads of offers like ALO has.

    1. manoli moriaty
      5th November 2019, 21:02

      In the past Hamilton stated that once his driving career ends, he wants his future direction to be entirely clear of F1, and generally will want nothing to do with motorsport again. That was some time ago now, and perhaps he was disillusioned with the sport at the time. Plus, if he walks out as the highest achieving driver of all times, he will have little more to prove, unlike Alonso who’s frantically tries to amass as many awards before he can’t longer drive.

      The downside to Lewis’ parting ways with motorsport? His imminent “music” career. I am already preparing for the cringe that’s coming.

      1. manoli moriaty

        I was surprised to see FA and LH (I think it was FA’s Karting charity event) chatting about the Karts and Lewis said he hadn’t been in one for a very long time.
        Alonso was hardly out of Karts at one point as was Schumacher.
        Remember whatever Alonso was up to he has been sought out for those offers. Another manager of a driver said he gets similar offers to Alonso all the time.

  6. Maybe it’s a pity this was his last one. His self confidence will suffer a lot, so retirement will look good :)

    1. Funny you know so much about him, and everything you do know fits perfectly into your prejudices against him.

    2. Maybe it’s a pity this was his last one

      You lot were saying that 5 championships ago ;)

    3. Think you need to go on a pilgrimage to a particular river in Egypt pal.

    4. Interesting.. Ham fans do not like a critical view on reality it seems ;)
      But you are free to embrace a seventh title!
      But if Merc does not deliver like the last years, or when RB and Fer(without cheating) build a good car, he has to compete with the new generation and will fail.

      1. I think it might be the way you put it erikje, but of course you know that :)

  7. I never liked Lewis’s personality and although i thought he was a very good driver (on par with Vettel, Alonso), i never considered him to be among the legends (Schumacher, Fangio, Prost, Senna). But the last 2-3 years have completely changed my view on him.

    Back in his McLaren days (2007-2012) he was a very fast but erratic driver, much like Verstappen and Leclerc today.
    He could dominate a race, but crash on the last laps just because he wasn’t willing to let someone pass him.
    Then in the early Mercedes era (2013-2016) he kept his killer speed, polished his rough edges and improved his racecraft. But even then he didn’t perform at 100% all the time. Sometimes he seemed lost and Rosberg took advatage of that.
    But the late Mercedes era (2017-2019) is where Lewis is making his legend. He is MUCH more mature, just as fast as before and just as relentless. To win the championship against a equal and sometimes even stronger Ferrari, as opposed to his teammate, is something that solidifies him as a trully worthy champion.

    He is easily the best of our generation, but if he manages to surpass Schumacher’s tally he’ll have to to do it against Verstappen and Leclerc in a completely new set of cars, as he ages and loses some of his killer speed gradually. If he wins a WDC in this third era (the V8 era – the hybrid V6 era – the ‘new’ ground effect era), i don’t think anyone could argue he isn’t the greatest of all time.

    1. Agreed, if he succeeds in 2020 he truly is the GOAT!

      1. Depends how much his win percentage improves. He is still behind Clark and way behind Fangio with 33.5% .
        Someone good at maths tell me if he can catch Fangio in one season.
        Given his team mates’ beat him a lot, I doubt it. A GOAT would have totally dominated all team-mates.

    2. @black

      Lewis has fallen further behind Schumacher since 2014, in terms of dominance over a season. At his peak Schummi would not have been regularly beaten by Button, Rosberg and Bottas. Those 3 have badly dented HAM’s stats

      1. @bigjoe

        A GOAT would have totally dominated all team-mates

        That only applies when your teammates are allowed to race you and not be forced to play No 2. Schumacher at his peak may have been unbeatable, but we don’t know that for sure. He only “raced” Barrichello and that says nothing realy. Every driver can be beaten in a race given the circumstances, the difficult thing is to do it across the season. And in Hamilton’s peak (2017-) nobody comes close. Even Rosberg had the advantage of better reliability and luck to win that year and he sacrified everything to beat Lewis.
        As for the percentages, F1 back in the 50s till the 70s was a very different sport than in the modern era. Winning a race and the championship back then was more or less dependant on whether the car could finish a race or whether you could just not die in a racing accident. The percentages in a championship of 6-7 races are totaly unreliable compared to a championship of 16-17 races with better reliability and less fatality. Therefore Hamilton can only be somewhat (not entirely) compared to Schumacher and Senna/Prost, not Fangio or Clark.

  8. As far as I’m concerned, Lewis Hamilton is the 2020 champion in waiting. Despite having a better second half of the season, Vettel still comes across to me as a mostly spent force in Formula One. He is largely lacking in my eyes; apart from his ability to pump in blinders in clean air. In the fastest car on the grid, that skill can pay dividends. Sebastian showed this in his Red Bull days. But in an inferior machine? Not so much…

    For me personally, both Max Verstappen, and Charles Leclerc, appear to be much more round drivers than Sebastian Vettel. And therefore they are my favourites to take the title fight to Hamilton in 2020 – providing their teams can provide them with adequate machinery. But even then, there’s a problem…

    Drivers first times fighting for the World Championship tend to go awry towards the end; unless they’re in a dominant car, and left virtually unchallenged. Their inexperience of managing the pressure that comes with a run at the title tends to get the better of them, whilst their more experienced rivals keep a cool head, and come through to take the crown. This exact thing happened with Lewis Hamilton himself, at the end of 2007.

    So even if Verstappen and/or Leclerc challenge for the title their/his first time(s) next season, or in 2021, I think they’ll bottle it close to the end. However once they experience the heartache of a close title-loss, and learn how to manage the pressure, they’ll be a much larger threat to Hamilton. It just depends if Lewis is still in the sport then, or not.

  9. Hoe cool would it be if Lewis would go to Ferrari to win his Nr 8 championship

    1. Eighth? Let him get his seventh first! Blimey…

      And anyway, we can’t even guarantee he’ll win another title. Personally I believe he’ll still win the championship in 2020 – which will give Lewis seven titles. Not eight. But after 2020, he could well face a strong threat, in the forms of Max Verstappen, and Charles Leclerc.

      And as for the Ferrari thing? Yeah. That’s not going to happen. Lewis has had a career long association with Mercedes-Benz and, providing he stays with them, he still stands to make a ton of money with them after his retirement, working as an ambassador for the brand. And seeing as Hamilton’s lifestyle is the exact opposite of modest (private jets and LA mansions ain’t cheap, yo!), that’s money he could very much do with.

      1. one can always fantasize, right ;-)

      2. Wasn’t Niki Lauda an ambassador for Ferrari? I could never get used to him at Mercedes.
        I grew up with a model of his 312 T in the lounge cabinet.

        1. Only for a short while, and that was in the eighties.

    2. @anunaki

      How cool would it be if Lewis would go to Ferrari to win his Nr 8 championship

      In 2021 in the 3rd best team then it would beat Alonso’s effort at Ferrari which still see him loved by the Tifosi.
      If HAM goes there he can’t leave without winning the WC. On the plus side for his fans he could be in F1 a long time.

      1. For professional athletes, racing drivers and other sportsmen alike, their performances start dropping off in their late thirties/early forties. The human body hits it’s physical peak around the age of thirty years, and begins to decline gradually afterwards; along with it’s endurance, and the brains reaction times. And all these factors are crucial to remaining competitive in Formula One…

        Now Lewis Hamilton is nearly 35 years old at this point – he’s not going to be in the sport for much longer. Or at least, not as a force to be reckoned with. Whilst it’s true other drivers do race competitively in other series way beyond the age of forty, those series tend to be less demanding; both physically, and mentally. Those series often come in the form of GT racing, or touring car championships.

        As much denial as Lewis himself, and his fans may be, his years left in Formula One are numbered. And those numbers are not in double digits. Not that that’s anything to be ashamed of. Every dog has it’s day after all, and during his time in Formula One, he’s managed to become one of the most decorated drivers in the sports history. And although he’s reaching the end, he’s not quite finished yet.

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