Dec 29

Hamilton’s hunger “critical” to keep him in F1 – Hakkinen

“After that year, when I felt my energy levels drop a little, it was not long before I retired.”

2017-10-22_1305Lewis Hamilton may opt to quit Formula 1 if he loses his hunger for more world titles, according to two-time F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen.

Having seen Hamilton wrap up his fourth F1 crown this season, Hakkinen believes the British driver will remain in the sport as long as he’s competitive and has the desire to hunt further world championships.

Since taking his fourth title Hamilton has been continually questioned about his ambition to match the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio on five titles and Michael Schumacher on seven and has conceded the German’s all-time title record could be out of his reach but hasn’t ruled out equalling Fangio.

Hakkinen says after securing his two F1 titles in 1998 and 1999 he gave it everything for a third consecutive crown only to lose out to Schumacher and admits his hunger levels dropped before his retirement from the sport at the end of 2001.

“Lewis’ achievement in winning four World Championship titles is impressive, and you can see that he has kept the hunger alive, that is critical,” Hakkinen said on his Unibet blog. “When I won both my World Championships in 1998 and 1999 I went into 2000 absolutely determined to win a third title, but it was not to be.

“After that year, when I felt my energy levels drop a little, it was not long before I retired.”

Hamilton is currently undergoing contract negotiations with Mercedes on a new three-year deal which is speculated to be worth up to £120m.

The four-time F1 world champion’s existing contract ties him to the German manufacturer until the end of the 2018 season but he had previously voiced interest in switching to teams in order to become just the second driver in history after Fangio to win titles with three different manufacturers.

But with Ferrari securing Sebastian Vettel until the end of 2020 and Red Bull also signing Max Verstappen on a long-term deal his options elsewhere have dried up.

Hakkinen also named Verstappen his star driver of 2017 and predicts Red Bull to be a more consistent title challenger in the future with the Dutch driver and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

“Max Verstappen was the standout driver of the season because he is so exciting to watch,” he said. “The two wins in Malaysia and Mexico showed that both he and the team have been getting stronger, and with Daniel Ricciardo winning in Baku, it means Ferrari and Mercedes could never relax.”

source: crash.net