'Too early' for Hamilton to retire, as Mercedes 'very much hope' for new deal

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After 2021 would be "too early" for Lewis Hamilton to retire from Formula 1, according to Jenson Button.

Back in February, the Briton finally signed a new contract at Mercedes after delayed talks, but surprised many with just a single year deal.

That has led to speculation Hamilton could bid for an record eighth world championship this season and then leave, with Mercedes junior George Russell waiting in the wings.

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But team boss Toto Wolff has claimed the one-year contract was merely a prelude to a longer-term deal, and he remains confident the 36-year-old will continue.

“I very much hope so," he told Formula1.com in Bahrain. "The journey that we have had together was very successful.

"He has been a Mercedes driver – a Mercedes kid since his go-karting years, he never raced a single weekend in Formula 1 without a Mercedes power unit, so it’s the logical continuation of the story.”

The Austrian did make it clear though, after the late agreement this year, that talks would begin much earlier in 2020.

“Certainly,” he stated. “We don’t want to leave it until January to confirm the two drivers.

"Valtteri [Bottas] was pretty regular during the summer – this is when it should happen. Also, to give the driver peace of mind, or be able to concentrate on the job.

“Obviously for next year there’s lots of balls in the air and we will always try to do the best for the team long-term while also giving total loyalty to our current driver line-up.

"We are not doubting either Valtteri or Lewis but discussions obviously are going to happen – but not in January next year.”

Commenting on Hamilton's future, 2009 world champion and former teammate at McLaren, Jenson Button, believes Lewis still has plenty of mileage in the tank.

"It’s tricky, some of us like to leave at the top of our game, but he is going to miss this sport," he told Sky Sports.

"It’s been his life forever, you really have to be ready to leave, and I know that.

"For a couple of years, I was thinking about leaving F1 and then I left that [decision], and it was the right thing to do to stay for those extra couple of years.

"I don’t think he should leave F1, I think it’s too early for him, I think he can still achieve so much more.

"Maybe change teams, try something different? Build a team around him again and then fight for another World Championship," he suggested.

Another former driver Mark Webber agreed, believing even if Hamilton began to dip he would still be very competitive.

"He’s definitely on the home straight [in his career], there’s no question about that," said the Australian on the On The Marbles podcast.

"You’d be a brave man to say he’s going to race for three more years. Two, maybe. One, yes, and then there’s a high chance, it makes a lot of sense. There’s new rules in 2022.

"[I’d say] go long, even Lewis at eight and a half out of 10 is still dangerous. Go a bit longer, you don’t have a great deal to lose in my opinion. when you’re that amazing.

"I still think he’s got more in him."