Lewis Hamilton says his competitors lack his level of “fire” as the five-time world champion firmly sets his sights on matching Michael Schumacher‘s record seven titles.
In an interview with talk show legend David Letterman for the Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, released on Friday, Hamilton states that he can “definitely do five [more] years” at motorsport’s highest level.
Hamilton was speaking before the start of the 2019 season and has since won four of the first six races of the season in what is the penultimate year on his current contract with Mercedes AMG Motorsport.
But if there were any question marks over Hamilton continuing beyond 2020, the current championship leader answers them in his interview with Letterman.
“Michael [Schumacher] retired when he was 38,” says Hamilton. “I’m 33. In my mind I can definitely do five years. I am ridiculously determined to win.
“What really drives me, and I feel that somewhat the people I race against may lack, is that fire.
“I’ve got this opportunity. I could easily let go of it right now but I feel like I would be squandering it if I didn’t continue to improve, grow and push.
“I’ve got to keep going for as long as I can basically – until I’m not enjoying it.”
In the interview Hamilton addresses the mental challenge Formula 1 provides, speaking for the first time at length about “instabilities” when faced with the highs and lows of the sport.
“It’s a hard, hard year,” Hamilton says. “Mentally you have these massive highs, wins and success, but then you have these massive comedowns.
“[It’s] something I’ve never really spoken about but you often do suffer from mental issues – instabilities – and keeping yourself together when you hit rock bottom, which you do as an athlete.
“If you’re lucky you can find strength at rock bottom. It’s about how you get up, not how you fall.”
While Hamilton’s legion of fans will be pleased to hear a commitment to Formula 1 from the man himself, he didn’t make it clear that he’d continue in Formula 1 with Mercedes.
Rumours circulated during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend that Hamilton’s rival Sebastian Vettel may retire at the end of 2019, leaving vacant a seat at Scuderia Ferrari and the question of whether Hamilton can be tempted away from the dominant Mercedes outfit for a spell in red before he does finally hang up his helemt.