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Analysis
Formula 1 Italian GP

What we learned about Hamilton from his new Mercedes F1 deal

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have finally signed the Briton’s latest racing contract, which will keep him at the team until 2025 and also earn him a new Formula 1 record. 

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Barring a shock twist such as injury or worse, Hamilton intends to extend his time driving at Mercedes in F1 through the 2024 and 2025 seasons – in the process competing in 13 seasons. 

That is two more than the current record of 11 which he currently shares with Michael Schumacher, after the German raced with Ferrari between 1996 and 2006. Hamilton already leads in terms of record number of races started for a single team, with his 213 Mercedes starts to Schumacher’s 180 for the Scuderia. 

F1 driver contracts: How long are all the drivers' contracts?

Famously, the Hamilton and Mercedes partnership is one of all sport’s big success stories, with the team emphasising his 82 wins and 72 poles as part of that in its announcement of his new two-year deal – plus team-mate George Russell earning an extension until the end of 2025 too – at this weekend’s 2023 Italian Grand Prix. 

Just an hour after that news was revealed, Hamilton faced the media in the official pre-event press conference at Monza, where he expanded on the intentions behind his new deal.  

This included several interesting aspects of his current mindset and revealed a driver who, at 38, feels his time competing in F1 is fairly far from over. 

The initial main takeaway was his comment that he and Mercedes have “unfinished business” left to achieve in F1 – a reference to their combined desire to regain the championship crown they lost to Red Bull's Max Verstappen in 2021. 

Also hanging in the air were the memories of the controversial moments of that season and its finale, where Hamilton lost the Abu Dhabi GP he had all but won to an incorrect officiating call that offered his rival the chance to turn the race and championship destinations around completely. 

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner shakes hands with second placed Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner shakes hands with second placed Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Photo by: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

When asked what he particularly meant by “unfinished business”, Hamilton replied: “We’re trying to win more world championships and I think that the unfinished business is getting us back to the top – it’s getting back and fighting for world championships.   

“We’ve been the most successful team in history and the most successful one in the past 10 years or whatever, but it’s been a challenge this past year [when Mercedes badly messed up its initial designs of F1’s latest ground-effect era].  

“So, I think it’s just getting us back to where we belong and operating on all cylinders, which you are seeing Red Bull doing.”  

“It’s not about redemption. We know that [the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP] is in the past" Lewis Hamilton

But Hamilton insisted that regarding his 2021 loss, on which he had vowed in early 2022 that “if you think what you saw [in 2021] was my best, wait until you see this year" before Mercedes’ W13 car turned out to be far from the leading pace, that he’s “not really a revenge person”. 

“It’s not about redemption,” he added. 

“We know that is in the past. There’s nothing you can do about the past, but what we can do is work harder, be more precise and be better moving forward, and I truly believe that with this team, we can win more world championships and more races together.   

“That’s where all my energy is going.” 

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes with Tom Brady

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes with Tom Brady

Photo by: Mercedes-Benz

Hamilton will be 40 when his latest Mercedes deal expires, which naturally turns thinking towards exactly how he galvanises that energy. 

In particular, he takes inspiration from NFL legend Tom Brady, who played in 23 consecutive seasons until he retired earlier this year aged 45. 

The pair have met – they played golf together ahead of the inaugural Miami GP in 2022 – and share a particular approach to their diet and fitness regimes to continue performing as well in their later careers as they did when they arrived at a high level in their respective championships in their early 20s. 

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Hamilton is vegan, while Brady, who is famous for his strict approach to diet to the extent he consumed avocado-flavoured ice cream and never ate strawberries, highlights the importance of eating a majority plant-based diet in how he was able to play for so long in physically demanding sport such as the NFL. 

“I think I look at people like Tom Brady, who is such an incredible athlete and has shown what can be done today [compared to past sporting eras],” said Hamilton. 

“He’s the real role model in that for all athletes to be able to look at and I’m really fortunate that I’ve been able to speak to him and understand his world, what he does consistently to keep himself in shape and he’s expressed it in the media anyway.” 

But Hamilton did add that “of course, it’s great seeing Fernando [Alonso]” racing and succeeding with Aston Martin, in F1 aged 42. 

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 2nd position, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, 3rd position, on the podium

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 2nd position, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, 3rd position, on the podium

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“He was here way before I was and obviously took that retirement and came back and is doing an amazing job,” Hamilton said of his former McLaren team-mate and title rival, referencing Alonso’s F1 hiatus between 2019 and 2021. 

“It just shows that your talent never really leaves you, as long as you have that passion and that commitment, you can continue.” 

Although he has committed to Mercedes for the next two years, Hamilton’s will to win is going to continue being tested as long as the Black Arrows squad remains adrift of Red Bull in the F1 pecking order. 

“If it’s not next year, we will continue to work through it, but in my heart, I truly believe that if it’s not next year, it’s the year after, we will be there [fighting for wins]” Lewis Hamilton

It is understood that Hamilton was influential in Mercedes’ decision to abandon the ‘zeropod’ car design with which it began the current rules era around the start of this season, which was likely reflected in his comment that when it came to being convinced of his team’s future prospects, “it’s not necessarily what someone says, it’s the work that you’re doing [together]”. 

“It’s the meetings we’ve been having with all of the engineers, with James Allison [returned as Mercedes’ technical director this year] and the whole group back at the factory,” he continued. 

“The heads of all the departments are coming together and just talking and really engaging better than ever before about where we are, the mistakes we’ve made, why we made those decisions, why we won’t make them again and where we’re going. “  

Having finally signed the contract he and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff had been insisting for much of the last three months was essentially already sealed at Zandvoort last weekend, Hamilton explained that “I’m not working towards next year thinking that it’s going to take another four years to get to where we need to be”. 

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W14

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W14

Photo by: Erik Junius

“But I’m aware that it does take time,” he added. 

“Of course, in my heart, I’m so hopeful that the decisions we are taking and the direction that we’re rowing towards will put us in that target zone to be able to fight the Red Bulls and be close and be challenging for pole.   

“If it’s not next year, we will continue to work through it, but in my heart, I truly believe that if it’s not next year, it’s the year after, we will be there.” 

Overall, Hamilton concluded that of his current place in F1 he “definitely didn’t think that I’d be the age that I am and feel the way that I do physically and mentally, and still love what I’m doing as much as I do”. 

This, perhaps more than anything, was the understanding in the sweltering press conference room at Monza on Thursday afternoon. 

That if ‘business’ was the theme of the day for its biggest news story, for Hamilton his next Mercedes deal actually remains ‘business as usual’ – targeting F1 wins and world titles. 

“A lot of people stay in the same jobs and roles for a long period of time and just fall out of love with it but keep going because it’s maybe the only thing they can do,” he explained.  

“But for me, I genuinely still have that love for what I’m doing.   

“I still love getting in the car, I still love racing with my peers and I still love working alongside Bono [engineer Peter Bonnington, who Hamilton joked is “stuck” working with his driver] and all the guys in the garage in the team, chasing that common goal and dream.  

“And I love that feeling of when you have the lows together and have the highs together. There’s nothing like it.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st position, celebrates after the race with a Union flag

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st position, celebrates after the race with a Union flag

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

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