Lewis Hamilton has revealed he will call time on his legendary Formula One career as soon as the sport no longer puts a smile on his face.
Hamilton, who equalled Michael Schumacher ’s long-standing record of seven F1 world-title wins last season, is still yet to put pen to paper on a new contract with Mercedes just under two months before the 2021 campaign gets underway in Bahrain.
It is believed the two parties are struggling to reach an agreement over both his salary and contract length, with Toto Wolff recently suggesting their star driver will not receive the three-year deal he is seeking.
The British superstar is currently the third-oldest driver on the grid, meaning his contract standoff with Mercedes has ignited speculation over when he will bow out from F1.
Nevertheless, Hamilton insists he will continue to race until doing so no longer gives him “the biggest smile”.
“You’ve got to find what you’re passionate about and what you love doing, and me personally, in my journey, there was a point where it just got too serious,” he said on the Formula for Success podcast.
“We only have one life. You have to enjoy what you’re doing.
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“You’ve got to find happiness every day in what you are doing and I think that has been really important for me to be able to live in the moment.
“Yes, it’s a competitive space that I’m in, but when I get in that car and put down the visor, the team start up the car and I leave the garage, I have the biggest smile. Even today, after all these years of racing.
“If there’s ever a day that that doesn’t happen, I don’t get that smile, I know that it’s done and I need to move on to something else.”
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Hamilton has won everything there is to win in F1, with just one more world-title triumph required to surpass racing icon Schumacher at the sport’s summit.
And the 36-year-old says inspiring the next generation of drivers is what motivates him to keep writing history in the sport.
“As I’ve gone along in my career – I never thought I’d have people following me – I realise the importance to people of what I’m doing,” he added.
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“Yes, I love getting up and working with my team towards a common goal. You know, being a part of a team, to kind of be the finishing touch or the catalyst to getting success with the team, that’s super exciting.
“But it’s the idea also that there’s probably a young kid watching me realising that it’s also possible [for them]. That’s super exciting for me.”
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