Lewis Hamilton celebrates his 37th birthday on Friday as puppeteer to an F1 community sitting cross-legged and eager-eyed in anxious wait of an update on his future, with clamour for resolution testament to a sport that needs its record-chaser, its activist, its face.
Radio silence in the wake of last-lap Abu Dhabi heartache has equated to an unofficial, perhaps unconscious ‘You wanted your headline, so here’s mine’ news sovereignty after dropping a retirement hint in his brief post-race presser.
“We gave it everything and never gave up and that’s the most important thing,” said Hamilton. “We’ll see about next year.”
Hamilton has not spoken publicly since, and yet the frenzy surrounding his next steps has seemingly eclipsed celebration of a first-time world champion in Max Verstappen; that being less a reflection of the talented Dutchman or the circumstances of his victory, but more so a reminder of the enormity and importance of F1’s most successful driver.
Formula 1’s birthday boy and recently-knighted seven-time champion signed a new two-year contract last summer, which kicked in this month, and admitted in September he had considered retirement in the past, noting “there’s other things that I’d like to do, normal stuff I want to do” while reiterating how fortunate he still considers himself to go wheel to wheel every week.
“If I start getting slower, I can’t be bothered to train and I’m not as driven, then I know that’s when I need to stop,” he added.
One thing we know, is he is not getting slower; only Hamilton knows the rest.
Will we be talking about title number eight by birthday number 38 this time next year?
“Adversity causes some to break; others to break records”
Mercedes recently provided the most transparent ‘read between the lines’ wink yet with an image of Hamilton accompanied by the words “Adversity causes some to break; others to break records”.
Hamilton’s brother Nicolas also offered reassurance over Lewis while speaking on his Twitch stream, insisting he was “fine”.
“I think he’s just having a bit of a social media break,” he added. “I don’t blame him, social media can be a very toxic place, but he’s cool though.”
It should be said that silence is no crime, particularly given the manner in which he was denied a record eighth World Drivers’ Championship. Few might have accepted the decision with the class and grace Hamilton did on