Could 2018 Be Lewis Hamilton's Last Season I Formula 1?
Fresh off his 4th World Championship Lewis Hamilton is starting to think of life after racing.
Every Formula 1 driver goes through several stages during their career. The first is the drive to get to Formula 1, karting, junior series etc. are just rungs on a ladder with F1 at the top. Once arriving in Formula 1 the goals become scoring points, standing on the podium and winning races. After that winning a championship becomes paramount. Once a champion the quest is to win more, moving up the list of the all time greats. Eventually every driver must consider the end. When it is time to bow out gracefully and focus on life after racing.
It appears Hamilton is at the last stage. His place in history as one of the most accomplished drivers in Formula 1 is well cemented. He is one of only five men to win four or more World Championships. He could retire tomorrow and still be considered among the sport's greats. However being content with ones own accomplishments is not what makes great F1 drivers. They became great because of their unwavering quest to be the best. They always strive to the next target, next win, next all timer they could surpass.
This overall narrative is what makes any sport fun. The comparison of today's greats vs. the ghosts of history. We rarely want to see a great retire when we think they still have something left to give. We want to witness history.
However, we often we forget that these drivers are actual human beings. They have families, friends and interests that don't involve driving really fast for a living. They are just like the rest of us only with a massive bank account. Hamilton is no exception as that desire to pursue off track interests is beginning to consume some of his thoughts where once it was only win and win often.
"It's like the weather. It's about trying to find the balance," said Hamilton during an interview with selected media. "So I do live my life day-by-day and try to live it to the maximum. So that's what I'm fighting with – I want to keep racing but there are these other things I want to do. I want my cake and I want to eat it. I just want to make sure I choose the right time, but I think I will."
Hamilton currently has only one year left on his contract and has admitted that he has began to think about life after racing. "I've currently got another year with the team and I do want to continue. But, I'm at that point where there's that question." Hamilton admitted. It is one thing to think about retirement it is another to actually do it. All Hamilton has know is the quest for F1 glory. It is very difficult to remove that large of a chunk from someone's life and move on to the next chapter.
"You can't come back to F1. Whatever happens, you are gonna miss it. If it's next year, if it's five years from now, you're gonna miss it when you finish. " Hamilton said. "There's a saying you stay as long as you can – I'm not quite sure about that exactly, but there is a lot of life left beyond it. There are things that I've missed in life."
There's the thing, to be the best in a particular field you have to make sacrifices elsewhere in life. Your social life, relationships, etc. all suffer at the quest for glory. It becomes a trade off, what do you want more? Hamilton admits that a large chunk of his look into what lies beyond racing came from his late Aunt. "My auntie died from cancer and on her last day she said, 'I've worked every day with the plan of stopping one day and doing all these different things, and then I ran out of time.' So I'm battling with that in my mind."
So what would Hamilton do after racing? He has denied any interest in a political career. Spending more time with friends and family is one major component but what else? What is he going to do with that time in between. Hamilton, just like the rest of us has his interests outside of his day job. What one of those could turn into his post racing career he doesn't seem to know at this point. "I don't mind doing an internship. I'm excited about learning new crafts. It's exciting, it's risky and I like the idea of that. It's different if you're worrying about pension and you don't have the financial stability. So that helps. It's just because it's exciting. What am I going to do?"
Hamilton is under contract through the 2018 season and Mercedes is expected to offer him another two year contract at some point next year. Weather Hamilton will accept it is another thing all together. Hamilton is an atypical F1 superstar. He does things his own way so one can not really say what he will do post 2018 all we know is that now more than ever he is thinking more about his life after racing.