Toto Wolff does not expect Lewis Hamilton to retire from F1 at end of the season

By Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent, Imola
·3-min read

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes his soon-to-be seven-time world champion will not retire from Formula One at the end of the season.

In the moments after winning Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Hamilton claimed it is not a forgone conclusion that he will remain in the sport when his Mercedes contract expires next month.

Hamilton, 35, who will win a record-equalling seventh title if he triumphs at the Turkish Grand Prix a week on Sunday, said: “I don’t even know if I am going to be here next year.

“I would like to be, but there is no guarantee of that. There is a lot that excites me about Formula One’s afterlife.”

But responding to his star driver’s comments, Wolff, whose future as Mercedes team principal beyond this season is also uncertain, said: “I guess if Lewis decided to step out of Formula One, which I don’t think will happen, we are going to have a frantic driver market out there.

“We are all happy but very tired and it is the same for me. I relate to his feeling that you question yourself and that you think about all the other things that matter.

“When you switch on the news in the morning, it is all about the struggles we face so it is normal for somebody to have these feelings. But we want to continue this journey. We are not finished.

“There will be a moment when the drivers’ championship is going to be decided so we can sit down and talk about the contract. We have a few months before the first race in Australia next year.”

Only recently, Hamilton spoke about the possibility of continuing in the sport for another three years and it seems improbable he will walk away with a record-breaking eighth title likely to follow in 2021.

Nevertheless, it is curious that a new contract has not been agreed. Both Hamilton and Mercedes have said that formal discussions over an extension to his current £40million-a-year deal are yet to start.

Hamilton continued: “We are in November and Christmas is not that far away. I feel great, strong, and that I could go on for plenty of months, but Toto mentioned about shelf life and there are multiple things on the top of my mind.

“I have been here a long, long time and I can understand him wanting to pull back a little bit and give more time to his family.”