Hamilton happy to keep options open after 'achieving most' of his F1 goals

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Lewis Hamilton admits flexibility over his future was one reason for only signing a one-year contract at Mercedes.

The seven-time world champion kept the Formula 1 community waiting until committing to a ninth season at the Brackley-based team last month.

Still, the short extension has led some to wonder if Hamilton is planning to go for a record-breaking eighth championship and then retire.

“I’m kind of in a fortunate position where I’ve achieved most of the stuff I’ve wanted to achieve up until this point, so there’s no real need necessarily to plan too far ahead in the future,” the 36-year-old admitted at the launch of Mercedes' new W12 on Tuesday.

“I think we live in quite an unusual period of time in life and I just wanted one year – then we can talk about if we do more and keep adding [to] it if we have to.”

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Previously, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff indicated the 2021 deal was more of a filler before a longer-term contract, potentially extending into his post-racing career, was discussed during this year.

And that was something he reiterated at the launch.

“It is very simple the explanation,” said the Austrian. “With Lewis there was particular media attention on our contract negotiations.

“It was actually quite funny because he and I are so aligned. While we were in the season we just didn’t have the scope to spend enough time with each other to have that conversation.

“We thought about doing it between the two Bahrain races but then he fell ill and then we both went into our holidays. We talked and then I had Covid so that delayed it.

"Our conversations are really partners discussing but it is down to the details, and then we felt now we have to close this conversation because the season is right in front of us.

“We had been talking a lot about the future, about Lewis driving the car in the future, but also about our partnership going forward.

“So we felt let’s discuss this during the season when we can find more time.”

Also at the heart of the Hamilton-Mercedes relationship going forward is the Briton's push for action on equality, something that became very prevalent in 2020.

And looking ahead to this year, Lewis admits that fight potentially means more to him than the record eighth F1 crown.

“In the past, it was about just winning championships but now it’s really pushing for… last year there was a lot of discussion about equality and inclusion," he said.

“I think there was a lot of talk, this year is all about pushing for diversity and really making sure that action is taken. That’s at the core of the drive for me but of course, we exist to win so that’s what all these guys and girls here are working towards so that’s my goal, to deliver that for them.”