Lewis Hamilton says his decision to test for Pirelli last week hints at his desire to stay in Formula 1 as he looks to improve the tires for future seasons.
Pirelli is developing tires for the 18-inch wheels that will be introduced in 2022 as part of a raft of radical new technical regulations, and Hamilton joined teammate Valtteri Bottas in carrying out a test at Imola last week. Although he has only signed a contract for this season, Hamilton says he asked to do the tire test because he plans on racing the new product next year.
“Well firstly, I don’t ever volunteer for test days and it’s probably one of the first ones I have volunteered for, so I immediately regretted it when I woke up in the morning on the day!” Hamilton said. “I was like, ‘dammit!’
“But no honestly, firstly it was at a really great track to test at, so I enjoyed the day and the weather was good. And I plan to be here next year, and I want to help Pirelli and help lead towards them having a better product.
“It’s something that the drivers all have wished for I think – better performance – and so it was important for me to gauge where the starting point is and what differences I can help with. So from a driver point of view we have more mechanical grip, less degradation… So I think it was a good test, and obviously it was the first step with the tires, but it definitely wasn’t a bad place to start.”
While the close title fight with Max Verstappen is getting Hamilton’s competitive juices flowing, he says his desire to improve representation in F1 also plays a major part in his thinking when he weighs up his future.
“I’m pretty spontaneous so it could always change,” he said. “I’m enjoying this battle that we’re having, it’s getting more exciting, it’s been even more of a challenge and I continue to love working with this team.
“It’s encouraging to see the steps for example my team are really making towards becoming more inclusive and more diverse. We still have a lot of work to do as a sport. There are still many teams that have continued to stay silent, some people that so far have not particularly been held accountable, and there’s still a lot of work to do within this sport. And I know that being here, I have more chance of helping change that than not so that’s something I’m looking to (do) – I don’t know how long I can stay though, so we’ll see.”