Following Lewis Hamilton’s announcement last week that he would like to extend his contract at Mercedes, Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has now revealed how he feels about Hamilton staying in Formula One and what he expects from the title fight in the coming years.
Already determined world champion Max Verstappen is delighted that Lewis Hamilton has made the decision to continue driving for Mercedes in Formula One in the coming years.
“He has to do what he thinks is right. And as long as he wants to race, he should do that,” the Dutchman supported his British colleague’s decision in a media interview.
The head-to-head race between the two Formula 1 stars for the title in 2021 is particularly memorable. The last Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi went down in history as one of the closest World Championship decisions. Verstappen was only able to snatch the title from Hamilton on the last lap.
Verstappen believes Mercedes will improve
But this year, Mercedes has fallen short of its own standards. That’s why there have rarely been tough duels on the track between world championship dominator Verstappen and Hamilton. But that could soon change again.
According to the 25-year-old Dutchman, he has already had “some great duels” with Hamilton and believes that there will be a few more in the future:
“I’m sure that everything will get closer again in the coming years. It will be interesting to see who will be up front.”
Even though the Red Bull driver loves the fierce battle for world championship points, he hasn’t missed the close fights with Hamilton this season.
“I’ve had a wide variety of duels this year and it’s different against every driver. When you have to go to the limit and really fight for every position, that’s always very good,” clarified Verstappen, who this season has been dueling for race wins especially with Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and was already able to celebrate his world championship title at the race in Japan in mid-October.
Hamilton ‘U-Turn’ on F1 extending racing career?
“I plan to do a multi-year contract with my team,” said Hamilton in Mexico,
The fact that Hamilton now wants to hang on for several more years represents a change of course. In the past, he had always said that he could not imagine still driving Formula 1 races when he was over 40. Now it’s different:
“I don’t know what the next five years will bring.”
“I think there’s a lot we can still achieve together,” Hamilton says.
“I don’t feel old at all. My training keeps me young. Reaction times and concentration are not a problem. My starts have been the best all year. There are so many things I do to make sure I stay fit and on top of my game,
“At some point,” he admits, “some things will start to wear off, but I haven’t noticed that so far. You have to ask yourself every year if you’re still willing to train as hard or even harder than when you started. Whether it’s worth it to you to give up so much time to train and work with the team,
“If the moment ever comes when I’m just swimming along, then I don’t belong here anymore. Then I don’t deserve this position anymore. But I’m constantly questioning myself if I’m still willing to make those sacrifices. And the answer to that is, yes, I am!
“I’m much more grounded than I used to be, comfortable in my skin. I have a home in England where I spend time when I’m with the team, and then my family often comes to visit me as well. My whole environment is better than it was a few years ago. So I feel we can win more world championships with this team.”
What Toto Wolff says about the new contract
First, though, the new contract has to be put on paper. The current one expires at the end of 2023. After so many negotiations Hamilton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff have already had, that should happen relatively quickly.
That Hamilton can stay at Mercedes if he wants to, Wolff is already making that much clear, that is “one hundred per cent certain”.
Wolff says: “We haven’t started talks yet. We want to finish the season first and then, like last time, take advantage of the quieter period in the winter. Back then we also started in the winter holidays and then it took about two months. We haven’t done that now.”
“But Lewis has become much more than a racing driver for us. Although we’re not talking about an end to his career yet, it’s very much important to talk about his role as an ambassador for Mercedes and the many sponsors we have, and the impact he has for our wider universe.”
The fact that the Mercedes brand can sell Hamilton’s success story for decades to come and feed off it in its external image, that even the time after his active career as a racing driver is settled, that could become a key factor in Hamilton’s new contract.
Bottom line is, he might not be racing despite being potentially further employed by Mercedes.