The seven-time world champion is enduring the worst season of his F1 career amid Mercedes’ struggles for competitiveness and is in the middle of an unprecedented 17-race winless streak.
It comes after Hamilton was denied a record-breaking eighth world title in last year’s controversial Abu Dhabi showdown after the incorrect handling of a late Safety Car period enabled Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to clinch the championship on the last lap.
Hamilton, whose current Mercedes contract expires at the end of F1 2023, had previously stressed that he had no plans to continue racing beyond the age of 40. The 37-year-old now acknowledges that is likely to change.
“Definitely, because it’s going to take longer than one year,” Hamilton told RaceFans when asked if he is starting to think about extending his F1 career in an interview with select media at Zandvoort.
“I think if we had just won last year and then we would win this year, definitely life would be in a different place and you’d be on a different course.
“I love that it’s gone through a phase even harder and we’ve got to pull through that thick slog and get to the point where we are a little bit lighter and we’re floating a little bit more. So yeah, I would say that it’s encouraged me to stay longer.
“Plus I’m feeling fit, I’m finding ways of feeling better physically. The mental challenge is a consistent thing and that will always be the case because that’s how it is for us athletes, we’re on the edge.
“But right now, where I am in life, I’m really grateful for the opportunity I have here. I like to think I still deserve a place here. So there is lots of work to do.”
And Hamilton says he is relishing the challenge, despite the difficult circumstances he and Mercedes find themselves in.
“Does it hurt? I wouldn’t say it hurts,” Hamilton insisted. “We all know what it could be.
“We would love to be in that battle fighting, and I wish that all the cars were a lot closer and we were all having a much better battle closer to the front. I wish there was only tenths between us all, but that’s not the way our sport is.
“So I don’t worry about that, and it’s not something I can control at the moment. I just focus on what I can do and that is trying to do a better job with what we have got and steering it.
“My worry – what is keeping me up at night – is what have I left out? Who do I need to speak to at the track? How can I support Bono [race engineer]? How can I support Marcus [Dudley, performance engineer] and Shov [Andrew Shovlin, trackside engineering director]?
“In the aero department, how can I support them to make better choices for the next car? When I damage the car, I take money away from the budget and I’m like, ‘Oh, God! Don’t do that!’
“That’s really what I’ve been focusing on, and I’m hoping when we come back in February next year, the car touches the ground and it does what we hope it does.”