Hamilton suggests that he is nearing chequered flag

LONDON • Lewis Hamilton has hinted that he could retire at the end of the season.

Just hours after joining Jim Clark and Alain Prost on five victories in the British Grand Prix, the 32-year-old's thoughts turned to his future, and what that might look like.

With 18 months left on his contract at Mercedes, a team who have brought him two Formula One world championships, he would not commit to staying.

"I can't really say what is going to happen six months from now except to say that I am loving racing," the Briton said.

"I love driving and you could say it's unlikely but you can't say what frame of mind I will be in at Christmas.

"Hopefully it will be really good. Even getting another championship, it won't be a case to hang up my gloves. I will always want to get more."

It is not the first time this season that Hamilton has mentioned the possibility of leaving the sport, but his comments at Silverstone were the clearest signal yet that he is really starting to think about it.

He has free rein outside of race weekends to pursue his other passions, including music, fashion and travel. The long leash is thought to be Mercedes' way of keeping Hamilton racing, while ensuring that he does not get bored.

Valtteri Bottas, who joined the team at the start of the year, has had a stellar season, winning two races and contributing to Mercedes' 55-point lead in the constructors' championship. But he has yet to hear if his one-year contract will be extended.

Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff has said that he has refrained from offering the Finn an extension as he wants to put "all the pieces of the puzzle" in the right order, which is not just looking at next season's driver line-up, but how it may look for years to come.

Perhaps Wolff is waiting to see what decision his most successful driver makes.

Hamilton is certainly keen to point out that he is enjoying the driving, and, ominously for Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who is just one point ahead of him in the drivers' championship, he feels he is at the top of his game.

"In myself now I am at my best," he said. "The happiest I am, except when I am with my family, is when I have the car under me."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'Hamilton suggests that he is nearing chequered flag'. Print Edition | Subscribe