Lewis Hamilton insists that winning a record-breaking eighth world championship will not be the “deciding factor” in whether he remains in Formula 1 in 2022.

Following a long-running saga and numerous delays, the Briton finally agreed a one-year extension to remain with Mercedes for this season, though the nature of the contract length has only fuelled speculation about his future beyond 2021.

Hamilton heads into the new campaign with the chance to surpass the record he currently jointly shares with Michael Schumacher and clinch an unprecedented eighth world title.

But speaking at the launch of Mercedes’ W12 challenger on Tuesday, the 36-year-old stressed that a decision over when he will retire from F1 will be influenced by his enjoyment factor of driving rather than his achievements in the sport.

“I have made a real important decision in my mind that I don’t want that [winning an eighth world title] to be the deciding factor,” Hamilton explained.

“I got into racing because I loved racing. That has got to be at the core of what I do. If I don’t love racing, if all you’re going for is accolades, all you’re going for is titles I feel like I could potentially lose my way.

“Of course it’s the ultimate dream but I don’t think it’s going to be the deciding factor as to whether I stay or keep going? It’s more whether when I put the helmet on, I still have the smile when I leave the garage.

“Last year was a really tough year for everyone, including me. There were still some really impactful moments. Will it be the case this year? We’ll see. Will I enjoy it as much? I’m excited now, so I’m sure I will."

Hamilton reiterated that he is “fully invested” in the upcoming 2021 F1 season while also being driven in his continued push for greater diversity and fight against racism.

“I’m fully invested in this season and delivering,” he said. "I still love what I do.

“I’m generally in a fortunate position where I don’t have to commit to multiple years, so I chose to have a one-year deal. Then I can see how the year goes and where we are at mid-year, or towards the end of the year.

“Who knows if we will still be in a pandemic. But it doesn’t mean I’m not committed. I’m still very, very committed to the sport.

“What I’m really focused on, is around the discussion on this diversity issue,” Hamilton added. “It still remains an issue today and it’s not going to change tonight but what’s really important is that we are actually delivering and actually taken action.

“I’m really proud of my team here and the steps we’ve taken. We are starting to see that progress little by little and it just takes one step at a time.

“That’s kind of my driving force this year too, to make sure that we continue to push for accountability and on top of that hopefully I can deliver some good performances.”

 

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