Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas look to remain in F1 for longer as they dwell into their relationship with Mercedes chief Toto Wolff.
Hamilton – the biggest personality in F1 – his future has always been of great interest to those in and around the sport. Over the years, retirement has been speculated for the Brit, but these reports – largely unfounded – have never materialised.
Instead, it has been contract extension followed by contract extension for Hamilton and Mercedes, as they continue an unbelievable run of success with double world championships year after year, with the Brit poised to match Michael Schumacher.
Years ago, he had unofficially pledged to compete through 2021, but said that he will see where his career takes him. Luckily, it has only taken him to good places since then, and now – an entire multi-month COVID-19 quarantine lockdown later – Hamilton feels he is in a good enough position to continue racing, at least for the next two or three years.
“Firstly, I don’t think you can guarantee anything, but I plan to be here for sure,” said Hamilton. “That’s definitely the goal. And so fingers crossed. I will be here and we will have fans here next year. And in terms of how long I go, that’s a bit of an unknown.
“I would say that the COVID lockdown, after we had the first part of the season, cancelled, that gave us…it was a negative in many, many ways. But in some ways, it gave a lot of life, a lot of energy to focus on some other things. And that bit of time off was really a bit of breathing space. So it’s kind of given me a renewed bit of energy to perhaps go longer.
“I mean, ultimately, I want to be able to perform at this at the level that I’m performing at now, forever. But I will see there is a point at which physicality and the mental side can tail off. And I don’t know when that’s going to be but I don’t see that happening in the in a particular short term in the next two or three years.
“So I’m definitely going to be here hopefully, for the foreseeable future. And also, we’re in a period of time, I mean, there’s not another driver from my background coming at the moment. I’m conscious of that as well. So I’m just going to try and I want to earn my position here. And I feel like every year I come back, it’s not a given just because I’ve got world championships under my belt.
“I think you still have to earn the right to be here in terms of how you perform, 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 three years,” said Hamilton, who also discussed his relationship with Toto Wolff.
It has been a fruitful partnership between the two, and one that has seen them win 83% of the world championships since the start of the turbo-hybrid era. Of course, the one that Hamilton lost – the 2016 title – was won only by his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
“It’s been it’s been a relationship that’s that’s has its own complexities, but it’s grown so much over the time that we’ve been working together,” said Hamilton. “I’d say it’s nearly eight years I think this is the eighth year. And I think it’s just going from strength to strength as we we learn more about each other.
“I think in relationships or friendships you, as you get to learn more about each other, hopefully your barriers start to come down a little bit and you open up more to each other. I see Toto as a friend and I’m very, very, but he’s my boss at the same time. But he’s been very fair and a great leader within our team. And I think, you know, the results that we’re achieving are, you know, a huge amount of that is down to his leadership.
“There are so many people in this team obviously part of the same chain, all these different parts in the chain, but the philosophy for example that he hands down, it stems down from his drive and you know, he’s a real racer at heart.
“He used to race, and he, we can see from all those videos, there’s funny memes when he’s banging on the table, because he’s, like all of us, hates losing and he’s passionate about this,” said Hamilton, whose current teammate Bottas also updated on his future, and how he is taking talks slowly.
Currently, the Finn is contracted through 2020 like Hamilton and rumoured to have an extension for 2021. “Of course, we only done four races,” said Bottas. “So that’s why it doesn’t feel that it’s dragging on or anything but things are finally moving into the right direction. We have only started discussions. There was no rush really to start them.
“But hopefully we will get there soon. So for now everything’s moving in the right direction. Definitely haven’t signed anything yet. But there’s no no panic. So I feel better. Good trust on both sides.” Bottas, too, told of his relationship with his Mercedes boss Wolff, who was his manager back in the day.
“I’ve known Toto since 2008 and he’s been a big help in my early career as well,” said Bottas. “So and for quite some time, he’s been the boss but it’s we have also really good, good friendship. We know each other really well. We can have really open discussions and he can be sometimes very obviously, critical, but that’s what he does to the people, that he actually cares and wants to perform.
“That’s a good thing. But he’s very honest, honest, when we speak. Sometimes if we speak about contract numbers or something, something like that can be a pain in the ass, but that’s normal. That’s his job. Difficult enough, but, but it’s all good fun and he’s doing amazing work for the team. And I think big part of the success team is having him, so thanks to Toto,” summed up Bottas.
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