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Lewis Hamilton could have already retired from F1 if he had won an eighth world title last season, according to former driver Tiff Needell. The ex-Ensign driver and Fifth Gear host claimed Hamilton has “much more to do with his life” and could have walked away from the sport if he was successful last year.
Speaking exclusively to Express Sport, Needell said: “I predicted that if Mr Masi hadn’t been in Abu Dhabi he would have already been retired. I think if he had won that eighth title [he could have quit].
“He has got so much more to do with his life, Lewis, he has this fashion love, his music love. I thought he might have taken a year out like Alain Prost did years ago because of all the problems in Abu Dhabi.
“He might have waited because obviously, he wasn’t sure with the new regulations if he would have a good car or not. It’s turned out he hasn’t got a good car.”
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Earlier in the season, pundits questioned whether Hamilton would walk away from F1 due to Mercedes’ struggles. However, the seven-time champion addressed the rumours, claiming it was not in his DNA to call it quits.
Hamilton’s current contract comes to an end after the 2023 season but he has claimed he had thought about extending. Another one-year deal would take him up until the age of 39 but it is likely Mercedes would offer at least a two-year deal after securing six drivers’ world titles with the team.
In the past, Hamilton suggested he would walk away from F1 before the age of 40 but has since backtracked. The Briton again addressed the speculation ahead of the Italian Grand Prix as he hinted he would remain behind the cockpit for several more years.
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He explained: “So, I mean, look, for years, we’ll be going around, up and down with stories of retirement and stopping and for me, I feel healthier than I’ve ever felt, as I focus a lot on that, I’m feeling fit. I love what I’m doing – and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.”
He added: “I want to be a part of that. I think I’ll always be with Mercedes ‘til the day I die. And I feel like I can race for quite a bit longer. So, I’ll be potentially steering towards that.”
Needell is the host of the motorsport show Lovecars On the Grid Podcast.
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