Damon Hill wary Mercedes’ form could force Lewis Hamilton into early retirement | F1
At 38, Hamilton is the second-oldest driver on the grid – only Fernando Alonso is older.
Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes is up at the end of the year, although the seven-time world champion has insisted that he wants to extend his stay with the German manufacturer.
His motivation remains sky high, even following his worst year in F1, failing to score a single win or pole position in 2022.
Hill thinks Hamilton’s long term future in F1 will be in doubt if Mercedes struggle again.
“Well he’s thinking about retiring already,” Hill told Sky. “He’s 38. He’s already talked about being one of the oldest guys. You’ve got Fernando Alonso out there at 41. You’re looking towards the end of your career.
“Everyone knows that as a racing driver you can’t go on forever but he’s so fit and he’s so committed. He’s kept himself in good sape, it’s the mind, it’s whether you’re mentally able to cope with getting yourself on a plane, getting to a hotel, going to a race when you think it’s not probably going to be a competitive car.
“That’s the key. That car gives him a sniff or chance of victory then he will be there but it’s when it gets harder then it gets a little bit more difficult to think long term.”
Hamilton is currently level with Michael Schumacher on seven world titles.
An eighth in F1 2023 would move him outright clear of the German – something that will be a “big carrot” for Hamilton.
“If a racing driver needs a carrot and the world championship is a big carrot,” Hill added.
“The eighth world title for Lewis and that meaning that he’s undisputedly the most successful grand prix driver of all time in championships – that’s a huge carrot and I think he came of not winning it in Abu Dhabi and he thought I am going to get it back.
“That ambition is burning very deep inside of him.”