Lewis Hamilton has said his sole focus is on delivering a record eighth world championship after he declared: “I am not in a relationship, I don’t have kids, my car is my baby”.
Ahead of this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, Hamilton confirmed for the first time that he will race in Formula One beyond his 40th birthday by signing a new multi-year contract at the conclusion of the season.
Hamilton, who turns 38 in January, still has one campaign to run on his £40m-a-season deal, but the British driver has firmly put to bed any suggestion he is edging towards retirement.
Hamilton has only three shots left at retaining his remarkable record of winning at least one race each year he has been on the grid, starting in the breathless Mexico City air on Sunday.
But the seven-time world champion seems revitalised, rather than deflated, by a season which leaves him sixth in the championship entering the 20th round of 22. He has not finished lower than fifth in his previous 15 campaigns.
“There has been this lingering narrative of winding down towards the end,” said Hamilton.
“But I am just in a happy place in my life. I am a lot more grounded. I have my home in the UK when I come to see the team, for example, and my family come down so I just have a better setup all round and I feel like I could take this team to more championships.
“Each year you have to ask yourself if you are willing to give as much, if not more, than you did when you first started. Are you willing to give up all your time to prepare and train and work with the team and deliver?
“If there is ever a moment when I am just arriving, and coasting along, then that is when I don’t belong here and I don’t deserve a position here and that is when I should stop.
“But we obviously have a championship we need to get back. I love the mission and that challenge with my team.”
It emerged this week that Hamilton is set to launch his own film and TV production company called Dawn Apollo Films. He is producing a new Hollywood F1 blockbuster, starring Brad Pitt.
Mission 44 – Hamilton’s foundation which aims to improve the lives of people from under-represented groups – and Ignite, a joint enterprise with Mercedes to improve diversity and inclusion in motor racing, are also at the sharp end of his thoughts. His interests in fashion and music are well known.
“I know when I am being distracted, and I will never let it get to that point,” he added. “I say ‘no’ to so many things every day. I am able to push back if I know something is going to affect my preparation, or training, and if it has any possible impact on the team, then it is a big no.
“And that translates to friends and relationships, too. This [Formula One] is what I am focused on. I am not in a relationship. I don’t have any kids. My car is my baby, as is Mission 44, and those are the things I cherish.”
Of the modern era, Hamilton will now almost certainly emulate Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen by racing into his forties.
“It is really about a state of mind,” he concluded. “If you look in the mirror every day and tell yourself you look old, that is probably where you are going to be. But I feel young and I feel that through my training.
“If you look at my starts, I have had the best starts of everyone here. My concentration level has not been a problem and there are also things you can work on in the background to keep those sharp.
“There are things I constantly work on to stay as sharp as I can be. Naturally, I am sure they will start to fade but I am not seeing that yet. When I do, then it is time to panic.”