Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2023

Hamilton surprised to be racing into his forties as he targets eighth title

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton admitted he never expected to continue racing in Formula 1 until the age of 40 after extending his deal to drive for Mercedes.

The seven times world champion will celebrate his 40th birthday before beginning the final season of the new two year deal Mercedes announced today. He has previously said he expected he would stop racing before reaching that milestone age.

However Hamilton, who made his F1 debut in 2007, said he still has the same enthusiasm for driving and competing that he’s always had.

“I definitely didn’t think that I would be the age that I am and feel the way that I do, physically and mentally, and still love what I’m doing as much as I do,” he said. “And that’s something I’m incredibly grateful for.

“I think a lot of people stay in the same jobs and roles for a long period of time and fall out of love with it but just keep going because it’s maybe the only thing they can do. But for me I genuinely love, still have that love for what I’m doing.

“I still love getting in the car. I still love racing with my peers and I still love working alongside Bono [race engineer Peter Bonnington] and all the guys in the garage and the team, chasing that common goal and dream. And I love that feeling of when you have the lows together and when you have the highs together. There’s nothing like it.”

Two years ago Hamilton came within one lap of becoming the first driver in Formula 1 history to win eight world championships. But he lost the title in a controversial conclusion to the season, following which he did not appear in public for weeks, prompting speculation he would retire from F1 on the spot.

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Having extended his contract for the first time since that notorious episode, Hamilton denied he is seeking to avenge the championship he lost under bitterly disputed circumstances.

“On the 2021 thing, I’m not really a revenge person,” he said. “It’s not about revenge. It’s not about redemption. That’s in the past, there’s nothing you can do about the past.

“But what we can do is work harder and be more precise and be better moving forwards. And I truly believe that with this team, we can win more world championships and more races together. So that’s where all my energy is going.”

Mercedes’ form slumped last season and the team only scored a single race victory, courtesy of Hamilton’s team mate George Russell. Rivals Red Bull are undefeated so far this year, but Hamilton said there was never any doubt in his mind about wanting to carry on racing for his team.

“I definitely wanted to continue,” he said. “In life there’s always ups and downs. Last year was a difficult year and I’m pretty sure everyone was questioning whether they wanted to continue because it’s tough at the top and it’s such a tough sport.

“But that feeling, that thought, quickly goes away and you put your mind and your energy into being the best you can be and dealing with the situations that you’re faced with. And so I’m really proud of what we achieved last year to get through it.

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“Whilst we started on the wrong foot this year we’ve had some really great results, we’re second in the constructors championship and our plan is to keep that and then close the gap to the guy ahead.”

Max Verstappen is on course to score one of the most dominant championship victories of all time this year. He has won races by margins of more than half a minute over Red Bull’s next-closest rival on occasions this year.

However Hamilton is convinced Mercedes will be able to challenge for championships again during the course of his new, two-year contract.

“I’m not working towards next year thinking that it’s going to take another four years to get to where we need to be,” he said. “But I’m aware that it does take time.

“Of course, in my heart, I’m so hopeful that the decisions we are taking, and the direction that we’re rolling towards, is that which will put us in that target zone to be able to fight and be close and be challenging for pole. But if it’s not next year, we’ll continue to work through it. But I, in my heart, truly believe that if it’s next year or the year after, we will be there.”

“The goal is simple,” Hamilton added. “Setting the target is simple. Achieving that target is not. It’s going to take all of us pulling together.

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“I think every team here and every driver is working so hard to get on top of the aero packages that they have and the team that they have. Pulling everyone together and having everyone firing on all cylinders is not easy in a large team. So that takes consistent work.

“The same from a driver’s perspective, just making sure you’re performing every weekend. I still, even though I’ve been driving and racing all these years, I still feel like I can improve each weekend. And I think that’s what I love about this sport. You’re never going to reach perfection. But the pursuit of perfection is one of the most exciting things about what we do.”

He is confident the changes the team made in response to its poor start to 2023 – changing the development direction of its car and reinstating James Allison as technical director – has convinced him the team are on the right path.

“It’s what you see, it’s not necessarily what someone says. It’s the work that you’re doing. It’s the meetings we’ve been having with all the engineers, with James Allison and the whole group back at the factory just focussed on the heads of all the departments coming together and talking and really engaging better than ever before about where we are, the mistakes we made, why we made those decisions, and why we won’t make them again and where we’re going. And just all having that confidence in each other that we are the best at what we do and when we come together and when we give it time, we will get to where we need to be.”

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2023 Italian Grand Prix

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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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7 comments on “Hamilton surprised to be racing into his forties as he targets eighth title”

  1. Can someone shed light on the James Allison situation…

    Did he want to move on from that position and did Merc have to twist his arm to get him back into his previous roll or did it happen a different way? Thanks!

  2. Unless Mercedes again gets an engine advantage like during their last dominate period – Lewis ain’t gonna win another world title.

    Lewis best WDC title was his first in 2008 – battling an equal Ferrari over a season – the other 6 were just about beating his team mate. Similar to Max first WDC in 2021 battling a slightly Mercedes over the season – 2022/2023 he just needs to beat Perez.

    If Red Bull nails the engine from 2026 and Newey doesn’t retire, we could well see Max getting 8 WDC titles in a row from 2021 till he retires in 2028.

    1. slightly “faster” Mercedes, missed a word in my post

      Really wish an EDIT function would be added to this site, even if just for a few minutes after your post.

      1. How about proofreading before posting? 🙄

        1. Basically every website I visit, f1 related, columbo related, chess related, has an edit function nowadays, it’s not asking much.

          If they have technical difficulties fine, but don’t claim wanting an edit function is unreasonable in 2023.

          Some have a time limit of 1h, just like the other person asked.

    2. Honestly I wasn’t impressed by hamilton’s 2008 season, he made plenty of mistakes and albeit ferrari was slightly faster, he also had better luck than massa and barely won it, and I think beating massa in a similar car is not much of an achievement by a top driver.

      I was more impressed by hamilton’s 2007 season, matching alonso in his debut was something special, a shame he lost that one by 1 point.

      But yes, in the mercedes year he only had to beat his team mate, which is very little competition, out of all his mercedes titles I think the only one that has some value is 2018, that year he finally cut the underperforming races and was always on it, unfortunately vettel made too many mistakes, and so the fight didn’t go down to the wire, but that ferrari was absolutely mercedes’ match, while in 2017 they had a significant advantage overall.

      I also doubt he’s gonna win another title unless he gets a significantly better car than verstappen, he was still a tough competitor in 2021, but I think verstappen was already the better driver by then and hamilton’s not getting any younger.

      1. mercedes years*

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