Lewis Hamilton can see himself racing in Formula 1 for at least another three years as he wants to be an inspiration for drivers from a similar background to aspire to race.
As the only black driver in F1 history, Hamilton has been central to many of the discussions surrounding the sport’s messaging calling for an end to racial injustice and improving diversity. At the same time, the Briton is coming up to the end of his latest contract but at the age of 35, he sees himself continuing for a number of years even if he matches or breaks Michael Schumacher’s records of seven world championships and 91 victories.
“In terms of how long I go, that’s a bit of an unknown,” Hamilton said. “The COVID lockdown meant the first part of the season was cancelled, and while that was a negative in many, many ways, in some ways it gave a lot of life and energy to focus on some other things and that bit of time off was really a bit of breathing space.
“It has kind of given me a renewed bit of energy to perhaps go longer. Ultimately I want to be able to perform at the level I am performing now forever, but obviously there is a point at which physicality and the mental side can tail off. I don’t know when that’s going to be, but I don’t see that happening in the next two or three years, so I am definitely going to be here for the foreseeable future.
“Also, we are in a period of time when there is not another driver from my background coming at the moment. I’m conscious of that as well. I don’t know, I’m just going to try and … I want to earn my position here.
“I feel like every year I come back that it is not a given just because I have world championships under my belt. I think you still have to earn the right to be here in terms of how you perform and continue to deliver. So my goal is to continue to deliver as long as I can. So I do see myself going for at least another three years.”
While he is going after Schumacher’s records this year, Hamilton is also being proactive in the global Black Lives Matter movement. On that front he had disagreed with Romain Grosjean’s stance at the last race in Hungary, but after the Frenchman admitted he had held a frank discussion with Hamilton since the race about where he might have been wrong, the six-time world champion was full of praise for the Haas F1 driver and GPDA director.
“I wasn’t aware of that, but I was already impressed with our conversation that we had afterwards and his approach to our conversation. He originally reached out to me to talk after the last race, so I gave him a call and we had this great conversation and ultimately it was quite informative for the both of us — we learned that we actually have more in common than we perhaps thought.
“He is clearly a caring person, so to hear that he said that… it is not easy, firstly, for anyone to admit that we are wrong and that’s a great first step. But the fact is, when we got off the phone I knew that we were united and we were going to be working towards the same common goal.
“I really, really appreciate Romain. That’s really what it’s going to take all of us to do, to open up our minds — don’t put up barriers or be defensive, be open-minded and acknowledging there is an issue is sometimes the first step and then how we can work towards making it better.”