Could this season be the last for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes?
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton finally put an end to rumours about who he would ride for in 2021 as he signed a one-year deal to remain with Mercedes for the new campaign.
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The British driver is aiming to hold the record outright for the most world titles at the end of the year. He currently shares that record with Michael Schumacher. Given how dominant he was in 2020, it is hard to look past the 36-year-old from the Drivers’ Championship once again.
Reports indicate both Hamilton and Mercedes are pleased with the terms of the new contract. Their previous deal expired one month prior to it being signed, therefore, there were clearly a few things which needed ironing out before the two parties settled on it.
Hamilton can now focus on preparing for the new season which begins on the 26th March in Bahrain. He is 20/57 in the Space Casino F1 Drivers Championship betting to prevail again this year. The betting suggests his closest challengers are likely to be Max Verstappen and his teammate Valtteri Bottas.
One year deal suggests Hamilton is not prepared to commit long term
This is the first time Hamilton has signed just a one-year deal in his F1 career. This indicates the reigning champion may be unsure about where his future lies.
Hamilton has been with Mercedes since 2013. He has formed a formidable partnership with the constructor which has seen them dominate the sport. There have been rocky periods, most notably when the Brit was in a battle with his teammate Nico Rosberg for the championship.
Now he is at the back end of his career in F1, Hamilton may want at least one more challenge. To win a world championship with three different constructors would be some achievement. There is unlikely to be a shortage of interest in Hamilton’s services in 2022 if it is indeed the year that will mark the end of his spell with Mercedes.
Retirement not out of the questions
If he does reach eight world titles this year, Hamilton may decide to call an end to his career in the sport as he may feel he has nothing more to achieve in F1. He was knighted in the Queen’s Honours List at the end of last year for what he has achieved in a phenomenal career on the track.
The Mercedes driver is now involved in Extreme E and he may see the off-road racing series as a challenge in the near future. He launched his own racing team, X44, last September. He is currently not behind the wheel but that could change if he decides to walk away from F1 at the end of 2021.
There are also projects outside of sport that Hamilton has given a lot of his attention to. None more so than his fight against racial inequality. He has given his voice to the Black Lives Matter campaign and he is sure to continue to support movements which tackle social injustice.
A lot may depend on how this season goes for Hamilton. If he continues to get enjoyment from the sport, he could chase 10 world titles. But, if he does walk away, there is a very strong case to be made for him being the greatest Formula One driver of all time.
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