Lewis Hamilton retirement claim made by Bernie Ecclestone – ‘He can escape contract’

F1: Hamilton v Verstappen in numbers

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Lewis Hamilton could still retire at the end of the season despite signing a new two-year contract at Mercedes, according to F1 legend Bernie Ecclestone. Max Verstappen is taking the fight to Hamilton this season and looks like he could well end the dominance of the Silver Arrows.

Ecclestone believes the fight in Hamilton has decreased this season as Red Bull have got faster.

The former F1 chief believes the 36-year-old has made mistakes uncharacteristic of his talents this season.

Ecclestone also thinks Hamilton could still retire despite his new contract being penned.

“I have spoken to lots of people about this and perhaps Lewis is not quite the fighter that he was,” said Ecclestone.

“There are lots of occasions this year where he could have done better and he hasn’t.

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“He hasn’t had any competition, the equipment has always been super, and he hasn’t really had to make the effort. But now maybe he is thinking that he better take it a bit easier.

“At the beginning of the year I thought he would look to win the championship and then retire.

“But it appears not, even though I wouldn’t rely too much on contracts. He can escape from that.

“He probably had a look at the clothing range and music but realised that it is not as easy to make money there as it is in Formula One.”

Hamilton and Ecclestone have a strained relationship which has stemmed from the world champion’s work for more racial diversity in F1.

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Last year, Hamilton labelled Ecclestone “uneducated and ignorant” after the 90-year-old said in a CNN interview that “in lots of cases, black people are more racist than white people”.

Do they still speak? “On and off,” Ecclestone replies. The last occasion? “Around the time of his support of Black Lives Matter,” he continues.

“Lewis thought I was against it but he was wrong because I know what he is trying to do.

“He called me because I spoke to his father, Anthony.

“I said the trouble for Lewis is that he has gone out of his way to wave the flag for Black Lives Matter and that people are making an awful lot of money out of this, and not him.

“As soon as the passion wears off, he will be left with it being his fault. And all he has ever done is try to do something to support it.”

F1 continues this weekend with the British Grand Prix which will see Hamilton try to reduce the gap to Verstappen.

It will see the grid for Sunday decided by a sprint qualifying race on Saturday.

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