'Robust' F1 will 'move forward' if Hamilton retires after 2021 - Domenicali

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Formula 1 is "robust" and can "move forward" if Lewis Hamilton decides to retire after 2021, CEO Stefano Domenicali says.

Currently, the seven-time world champion is only signed at Mercedes until the end of the season as talks were delayed until early this year due to Covid-19.

It also can't be denied that Hamilton is also F1's biggest name driver, with his Instagram and Twitter account having more followers than the official F1 channels.

But Domenicali is confident the sport could carry on without the 36-year-old.

"F1 is solid, robust, and whatever Lewis' decision will be, F1 will react and move forward," he said in a conference call with investors.

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"The good news is that if Lewis, as we all hope, will stay, he will have an incredible season in front of him with the new cars, with a new challenge and this may be very interesting for him.

"If he decides a different way around, the good news is that in F1 we have so many good drivers today that at least the challenge, the chances, will be even stronger.

"Therefore, whatever Lewis' decision will be, we will respect it but F1 is really solid and strong."

As it is, recent noises from Hamilton have indicated he wants to carry on in 2022, noting his decision to test next year's Pirelli tyres after the F1 race at Imola.

And with his reach far exceeding just motorsport, Domenicali admits the Briton is a highly valued member of the F1 paddock.

"For sure Lewis is a great asset. He is doing an incredible job on the sporting side in terms of image. He was able to grow F1 in other areas which were not really specifically related to F1," he continued.

"But F1 itself is strong, and drivers and champions are always in a place where one day they may retire.

"I don't know what Lewis is doing, we are talking with him, but of course, now he's focused on his actual season, he is fully boosted to make sure that he'll be the only driver that is going to win eight titles in the history of F1."

There is some expectation that Hamilton's next contract will be his last as a driver in F1, and Mercedes is confident he won't look elsewhere on the grid in the future.

“I think this will be his last team,” team boss Toto Wolff told the DPA news agency.

“There is no better place for him than at Mercedes and our wish is also that he continues with us.

“The symbiosis between us is good and we have celebrated so many successes together that from today’s perspective everything speaks in favour of continuing to race together.”