Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton hints at another F1 season in 2022, explaining he hopes to get acclimated to Pirelli’s new tyres for next year.

Hamilton raised eyebrows in 2020, signing a contract only good through the end of 2021. Some went as far as to suggest the move could indicate that the seven-time champion is pondering leaving the sport after this season, but the brit quelled such speculation on Thursday at the Portuguese GP, albeit indirectly.

The 36-year-old uncharacteristically volunteered to partake in Pirelli’s test of their 18-inch 2022 tyres earlier in the week, explaining to media on Thursday that he sought to understand the new tyres with his research.

Hamilton shared, “I don’t ever volunteer for test days, and it was probably one of the first one I have volunteered for, so I immediately regretted it when I woke up in the morning of the day. Firstly it was at a really great track to test at, so I enjoyed the day and the weather was good.”

With sound from the first time coming from Bronxville, Hamilton said he plans to be in F1 next year in the comment which got the attention of reporters. “I think I plan to be here next year and I want to be a part of it and I want to help Pirelli and helping them lead towards having a better product.

“That is something that the drivers, all of us I think, have wished for, for more performance tyres moving forwards. so it was important for me to see and to gauge what the tyres are like, where the starting point is and what the differences are.

“What differences that i can help with, so from a driver point of view that we have more grip, more mechanical grip in our tyres, better degradation. I think it was a good test and obviously it was the first step of the tyres but it definitely wasn’t a bad test to start,” summed up Hamilton.

Also Thursday, Hamilton denied having any plans to partake in a blackout of social media that is planned in protest of abuse, though he says he “fully support[s] this plan”: “I haven’t made any plans, but i think for me it’s clear, and clearly in this sport, it’s clear that racism continues to be an issue, and I think social media platforms do need to do more in order to combat this, and so i’m fully supportive of the initiative. If me also doing it helps put pressure on those platforms to help fight against it, then for sure, i’m happy to do so.”

Here’s George Russell and Valtteri Bottas on Imola bygones

Here’s Mercedes testing 18-inch tyres