Lewis Hamilton fires Max Verstappen warning with contract talks paused

Lewis Hamilton on difficult season for Mercedes in November

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Lewis Hamilton has sent Max Verstappen a warning that he and Mercedes can “achieve anything” next season after a disappointing campaign where the 37-year-old finished sixth as the Red Bull man won his second successive title. Hamilton did enjoy a resurgence in the second half of the year, however, and the Briton is hoping that he can build on that momentum ahead of an improved 2023.

Verstappen claimed 15 race wins and finished nearly 150 points clear of second-placed Charles Leclerc in a dominant season, in contrast to the previous year when he pipped Hamilton to the title in the final race of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton has won seven world championships, including six in seven years before the Dutchman’s maiden victory, and has warned the 25-year-old that it is difficult to remain at the top of the sport.

“I know how hard it is to be at the top and to stay there,” Hamilton told Bild. “We want to get back to the top! What gives us great hope is the end of this season. The last few races have shown a clear positive trend and prove that with perseverance we can achieve anything.”

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Hamilton was unable to claim a race win for the first time in his Formula One career, but came close at Silverstone and finished second in three of the four final races after Mercedes overcame the porpoising issues that plagued them at the start of the year. His contract is up at the end of next season, and while there is optimism that he will extend his deal at Mercedes, Hamilton admitted that talks had not yet begun on a new contract.

“We haven’t started with that yet,” Hamilton added. “So far we haven’t had the time, we’ve been on the road for two months at a time. Sometimes you wake up and have this feeling: I don’t want to do this anymore. And sometimes you wake up and think: I can still do other things my whole life, there is definitely more I want to achieve. It won’t be a terribly long time now, but I’ll definitely be staying.”

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There had been rumours that Hamilton, at 37, would consider retiring from the sport but he has since denied that he is looking to quit F1 and hinted that he would like to retire as an eight-time world champion. “I think retiring as a world champion is a dream that every athlete has,” he said. “And so do I.”

The Silver Arrows team boss Toto Wolff insisted that Hamilton’s new contract would be discussed over the winter. “Well the job list is pretty long with what needs to be done,” he told the Beyond the Grid podcast.

“But certainly Lewis’ contract is one of the topics that we will tackle over the winter. There is no firm deadline. Absolutely. Lewis is part of the team and the team is part of Lewis. No reason to not continue.”

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