‘Never say never’ – Hamilton explains change of heart by staying in F1 past his 40th birthday
Lewis Hamilton has opened up about his decision to sign a new deal with Mercedes and race on into his 40s, having previously hinted that he would not reach that milestone.
Hamilton ended months of speculation over his F1 future by putting pen to paper on a new deal with the Silver Arrows last summer, an agreement that will keep him onboard through 2024 and 2025 – when he will turn 40.
Explaining his change of heart in an interview with BBC Sport, Hamilton commented: “What you’ve got to learn is you should never say never.
“But at that point, I definitely didn’t think I’d be continuing. They are frickin’ long seasons. It’s a long time away from everyone. I’ve been doing it 16 years. It’s gruelling.
“There’s a lot of glitz and glamour and lots of positives but it’s by no means easy to stay at your best, to stay committed, to keep up the training, to continue to deliver.
“It’s a lot of pressure. You’re being scrutinised all the time and I’m in a place in my life where there’s no way I can win. If I win a race, it’s: ‘Oh, he’s a seven-time world champion, you got 103 wins’. If I don’t do well, it’s [criticism]…
“I can only lose at this point in life. So, for sure there was a period of time when I was questioning whether I wanted to go through that.”
Despite going another season without a Grand Prix win to his name, as Mercedes battled to tame their W14, Hamilton ended 2023 third in the drivers’ standings behind Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
As he prepares to enter his 18th season and push to get back to winning ways, Hamilton made clear that his love for the sport, and driving, is as strong as ever.
“I still love driving, I still love getting into the car,” said the Briton, who made his F1 debut with McLaren in 2007 alongside Fernando Alonso, another driver still racing into his 40s.
“When they start the car up and you have all those people around you, the crew, you go down the pit lane, I still get this smile on my face the same as I did the first day I drove.”