“I don’t really feel like I have to give it up anytime soon,” says seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton as he admits he could race beyond 2023.
It wasn’t that long ago that it was feared Lewis Hamilton had turned his back on the sport, such was the impact of that night last December in Abu Dhabi.
And though he returned – insisting that he had never really considered walking away in the first place – his struggle with the W13 may have had cause to make him think again.
However, as Mercedes slowly re-establishes itself, the Briton scoring successive podiums in the last three races, Hamilton admits that he is not even thinking about retiring at this point.
Indeed, though his current contract runs out at the end of next season, asked if he might extend it, the Briton admits such a move is definitely on the cards.
“I’ll be lying if I said that I hadn’t thought about extending,” he tells Vanity Fair. “I’m still on the mission, I’m still loving driving, I’m still being challenged by it. So I don’t really feel like I have to give it up anytime soon.”
Should he opt to retire – and an eighth title in 2023 would effectively seal the deal – there are countless doors open to him as he moves forward, be it music, activism, fashion, basically whatever he chooses.
Having lent his voice to Cars 2 and 3 and appeared in Zoolander 2, the movies might offer another career choice for the Mercedes star, however in a wide ranging interview Hamilton admits one of his biggest regrets, having to turn down the chance to appear in Top Gun: Maverick.
“Basically I’m a friend of Tom Cruise, and he invited me to his set years ago when he was doing Edge of Tomorrow, and we just built a friendship over time.
“When I heard the second one was coming out, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I have to ask him’,” he admitted, having been a big fan of the original Top Gun movie. “I said ‘I don’t care what role it is. I’ll even sweep something, be a cleaner in the back’.”
Offered a part as a pilot, Hamilton admits that having to turn down the offer was “the most upsetting call that I think I’ve ever had”.
No doubt even more upsetting were the events of Abu Dhabi 2021, of which Hamilton has spoken little since.
“You see things start to unfold and my worst fears came alive,” he recalled of the fateful safety car call. “I was like, there’s no way they’re going to cheat me out of this. There’s no way. That won’t happen. Surely not.
“I don’t know if I can really put into words the feeling that I had. I do remember just sitting there just in disbelief. And realising I’ve got to undo my belts, I’ve got to get out of there, I’ve got to climb out of this thing, I’ve got to find the strength…
“I had no strength. And it was one of the toughest moments, I would say, that I’ve had in a long, long time. I knew what had happened. I knew what decisions had been made and why. I knew that something wasn’t right.”