Sir Lewis Hamilton is counting down to the start of the new season unsure whether it will be his last, even if he wins an unprecedented eighth world title.
The recently knighted driver revealed his uncertainty at the launch of the new Mercedes at the team’s Brackley HQ, where he dedicated himself to continue his public fight for equality.
Hamilton, who has been training in America ahead of racing starting again in Bahrain on March 28, signed a one-year contract with the all-conquering Silver Arrows last month — an arrangement that raised doubts over his long-term commitment.
Lewis Hamilton’s future within Formula One is unclear following the 2021 season
And on Tuesday neither he nor team principal Toto Wolff would categorically commit to keeping their record-busting partnership going into 2022.
Hamilton, 36, said: ‘I am in the fortunate position where I have achieved most of the stuff I wanted to achieve up to this point. So there is no real need to plan too far into the future.
‘We are living in an unusual period of time, so I just wanted one year. Then we can talk about if we do more and keep adding it by one if we have to.
‘I have made an important decision in my mind that I don’t want winning another title to be the deciding factor in whether I stay.
Hamilton and Toto Wolff didn’t commit to keeping record-busting partnership going into 2022
‘It will be more whether when I put the helmet on I still have a smile as I leave the garage and whether I still enjoy it.’
Wolff declined the opportunity to say that Hamilton would 100 per cent be top of his drive list for 2022, reinforcing the notion that the Austrian may want to rejuvenate his line-up by signing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen or Williams’ young British driver George Russell.
Wolff appears to want to keep his options open, just like his star driver.
Mercedes have launched their new W12 car they hope can lead them to more glory in 2021