Lewis Hamilton has given a glimpse of his future plans in Formula One, as the battle between the Mercedes driver and Max Verstappen looks to intensify this weekend in Portimao for round three. For the first time, he has made it clear he wants to continue driving next season.
Hamilton raised eyebrows at the start of the year by signing a one-year deal with Mercedes, with wild speculation mounting that he could retire from the sport altogether if he wins a record-breaking eighth world title.
However, during his press conference ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix, Hamilton revealed he does have plans to stay in F1 next year when asked about a testing session with Pirelli.
The seven-time world champion sampled the 18-inch Pirelli tyres, set to be introduced with the new cars in 2022.
Pirelli have been given 30 days across the year to work with the teams on testing these new compounds that will replace the current 13-inch specifications.
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And Hamilton, who admits he’s no fan of testing, completed 55 laps during his morning stint before returning to the track in the afternoon, with 130 laps tallied up.
When asked about his stint on track in Imola, the Briton joked: “I don’t ever volunteer for test days, and it was probably one of the first one I have volunteered for, so I immediately regretted it when I woke up in the morning of the day.
“Firstly it was at a really great track to test at, so I enjoyed the day and the weather was good.
“I plan to be here next year, and I want to help Pirelli in helping lead them to have a better product, it’s something that the drivers, all of us I think, have wished for more performance tyres moving forward.
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“So it was important for me to gauge where the starting point is, and what difference I can help, so that from a driver’s point of view we have more grip, more mechanical grip in our tyres and less degradation.”
And nothing gets past eagle-eyed journalists as he was promptly asked when he decided he has come to the conclusion to stay in F1 next season.
“The thing is, I’m pretty spontaneous so it can always change,” replied Hamilton, smiling. “But I don’t know, I’m enjoying this battle [between Hamilton and Verstappen], it’s getting more exciting, it’s been even more of a challenge.
“As I’ve said I continue to love working with this team, and it’s encouraging to see the steps my team are making towards becoming more inclusive and more diverse.
“I think today they’ve already announced one of the initiatives we’ve had within the organisation and we still have a lot of work to do as a sport.
“There’s still many teams that have continued to stay silent, there are, so far, not many people who are being held accountable, and there’s still a lot of work to do within this sport.
“I know that being here I have more of a chance of changing that than not.”
Hamilton then concluded, with a wry smile: “I don’t know how long I can stay though, we’ll see.”
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