Hamilton Unfazed by Victory Drought, Eyes Mercedes Revival
Nov.26 - Lewis Hamilton says he isn't sure if he still needs to retire as world champion.
The seven time world champion found himself embroiled in wild rumours at the 2023 season finale in Abu Dhabi linking him with a sensational move to Red Bull.
He has now sat down with the major German newspaper Bild am Sonntag to set the record straight.
"Those rumours are not true," the 38-year-old insisted.
"I haven't spoken to Christian (Horner) for a long time. And I often talk to Fred (Vasseur) in the paddock because we've known each other for a long time.
"But I've been with Mercedes since I was 13. There was never a question of whether I would continue here," said the Mercedes driver, who inked a new two year deal in late August.
"Going to another team with a good car because you don't win has zero appeal for me. Winning in a car that has been a winning car for a long time doesn't feel like an achievement," he added.
"It's easy to walk away when things are difficult. But I've never done anything like that," Hamilton insisted. "I've always been there through thick and thin. I never considered leaving because the car wasn't good enough."
After a long run of success, Hamilton was shocked to finish sixth overall in 2022 - and this yet he looks set to finish third. Mathematically, then, he might be champion again in 2024.
Hamilton laughs: "I don't know if it really works that way. I don't believe in trends. I believe in hard work."
So is Mercedes' hard work to fix the problems with its 'ground effect' cars paying off yet?
"Let's put it this way," the Briton answered. "We are currently not where we need to be."
It's possible Mercedes still won't be in a title-winning position by the end of Hamilton's new contract - so does he still believe he won't retire unless he wins an eighth title?
"I don't know," Hamilton answered after a pause. "And I don't like planning the ending. I don't know when that will be yet.
"Gamblers often stay in the casino when they win big and then they stay too long. You have to leave when you're at the top. But I haven't decided yet if it's something I'm going to do.
"I want to get back to the top first. But that could take time."
Some think the rumours of talks with Red Bull and Ferrari only arose because Hamilton hasn't won a single grand prix with Mercedes for two full seasons.
"Life is not just about winning - about coming first," he insists. "I don't even really miss it.
"We started this season with a car that was maybe the fourth best in the field. Perhaps finishing ahead of Ferrari can also be a victory for us as a team.
"When it is clear at the beginning of the season that you are not racing for poles or victories, the perspective changes. you direct your energy and focus towards problem solving. I like solving problems.
"Unfortunately in this sport it takes a little longer," Hamilton laughed again.
When asked if the winter period might be long enough to put Mercedes back on the real track to winning, he said: "I haven't really thought about it yet and I'm trying not to think about it yet.
"I don't want to think about racing for as long as possible, that's how it is at this point in the year. In February, the worries and the stress will start again."
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