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Hamilton's contract talks are deserved after he sacrificed season to be Mercedes' guinea pig – iNews

Lewis Hamilton turns 38 in January, a time when sport’s cadences ordinarily steer participants towards a natural close.
Sixteen consecutive summers pounding around the circuits of the world would breach the limits of most. It might have been the case with Hamilton had Abu Dhabi confirmed him as an eight-time world champion.
Would the incentive to go again have been as great were he alone in the pantheon of champions with eight drivers’ titles?
What we do know is last season’s cruel denial coupled with traumas associated with this season’s car have renewed Hamilton’s commitment not shattered it, lit his desire to extend his career into his forties.
Hamilton would have preferred to have touched down in Mexico in the teeth of yet another championship gale. Instead, he has used his time to clear out the attic, to spring clean the mental furniture and plan an extended future behind the wheel.
“We are going to do another deal. My goal is to continue with Mercedes. I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13,” Hamilton said.
“They’ve stuck with me through thick and thin, through being expelled at school, through everything that was going on through 2020 (Black Lives Matter protests), through my mistakes and s___ that’s been in the press, through the ups and downs.
“I’m trying to analyse my next three to five-year plan. It’s difficult to do ten. Where do I see myself? What are the things I want to do? What are my goals? I’m adding in lots of business things, a lot of successful, really positive things outside.
“But I want to keep racing. I love what I do. I’ve been doing it for 30 years, and I don’t feel that I should have to stop. I think I’m still earning my keep. I want to do better, still.”
Hamilton expects his future to be settled within months. Since the prospect of a race win has receded in 2022 the focus falls on 2023 when Mercedes have pledged to run a car with much altered architecture.
Since Canada, when Hamilton gave up trying to experiment his was out of the mess in favour of getting the best out of what he had, his results have picked up. Hamilton volunteered himself as the guinea pig in the early races while his team-mate George Russell concentrated on assimilating himself into the team.
The results suggested Russell had the measure of Hamilton encouraging many to connect the events of 2021 with latter’s performance in 2022.
In reality, Hamilton sacrificed himself for the team, enduring all manner of failures as the team disappeared down a succession of set-up rabbit holes. In the latter half of the season, Hamilton has outraced his team-mate and outqualified him at the last five grands prix to lead 12-7.
“You do all the work in the simulator and the simulator’s telling you something different to what you get at the track,” he said.
“You think, the car feels quite good this weekend or the engineers say ‘okay we’ve got an upgrade that’s worth three tenths’ and you get there and it’s a tenth slower. And you’re ‘oh shoot’. I think I’ve learned just not to get my hopes up with anything. It’s better to kind of under-expect and, if it’s just as good it’s just as good, and if it’s better, it’s better.”
As hard as Hamilton tries he can never be totally free of the past. Echoes of 2021 have resurfaced through the budget cap fiasco that still awaits resolution following Red Bull’s reported $1.8m (£1.55m) transgression. “That, for sure, brings up a little bit of emotion. You kind of buried it and moved on and then it comes back up, and then it’s like another bit of a kick. That just bought it all kind of fresh again.”
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Hamilton was speaking in the Austin paddock as the FIA and Red Bull continued to negotiate a settlement behind closed doors.
The link between an offence that took place in 2021 and the Abu Dhabi denouement is all too easy to make, and when put to Hamilton brought unresolved emotions racing to the surface.
“It was definitely spirit-breaking, or soul-crushing, whatever you want to call it,” he added.
“Just to believe that the sport would do something like that. An outcome of a world championship, which so many people have worked so hard for, would come out through a wrong decision from somebody.
“That was probably the only thing. If you can lose a championship through wrongdoing within an organisation. That was the thing that I wondered [about].”
The FIA’s supervision of the budget cap has done little to repair trust nor dispel doubts about the competence of F1’s ruling body to govern the sport.
Last year’s pledge to build back stronger after Red Bull petitioned race director Michael Masi into making a series of irregular decisions has run into more procedural confusion. The FIA’s insistence on secrecy serves neither governing body, team nor the sport well. Hamilton is not the only one shaking his head.
All rights reserved. © 2021 Associated Newspapers Limited.

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