Lewis Hamilton expects to race for at least five more years and believes he would be squandering an opportunity to beat Michael Schumacher’s records if he stopped before then.
The five-time world champion currently leads the drivers’ championship and is closing in on Schumacher’s benchmark of seven, and is also now just 14 wins adrift of the German’s record of 91. Appearing on David Letterman’s Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction ahead of this season, Hamilton said that Schmaucher’s records feel within reach.
“Michael retired [for the first time, from Ferrari] when he was 38 – I’m 33,” Hamilton said on the show, which was filmed before he turned 34 this year. “So, I mean, in my mind I can definitely do five years.”
When Letterman responded that having five titles now doesn’t guarantee that he will add to that tally, Hamilton replied: “But I am ridiculously determined to win.
“What really drives me, and I feel that somewhat the people I race against may lack, is that fire from when they were young and just how hard we had to work.
“I’ve got this opportunity, and I could easily let go of it right now, but I feel like I would be squandering it if I didn’t continue to improve, grow and push. So I’ve got to keep going for as long as I can basically, until I’m not enjoying it.”
That enjoyment, Hamilton admitted, is something that has not always come naturally, even during his current period of dominance.
“It’s definitely not just nothing but fun,” he said. “It’s a hard, hard year. Mentally you have these massive highs of these wins and success, then you have these massive come-downs.
“It’s something I’ve never really spoken about but you often do suffer from mental issues, instabilities. Keeping that through the year, keeping yourself together when you hit rock bottom – which you do as an athlete – if you’re lucky you can find that there’s still strength at rock bottom. So it’s about how you get up, not how you fall.”