Formula One Buy or Sell: Lewis Hamilton retiring after the 2017 season?

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 08: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP prepares to drive on the grid before the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 8, 2017 in Suzuka. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 08: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP prepares to drive on the grid before the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 8, 2017 in Suzuka. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) /

Lewis Hamilton has not ruled out retiring from Formula One following the 2017 season. But will he actually call it a career?

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, 32, is on his way to winning his fourth career Formula One championship. He holds a 59-point (306 to 247) lead over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with just four races remaining on this season’s schedule.

But while his current contract does not expire until the end of the 2018 season, there has been talk of him possibly retiring following the conclusion of this season, and he has mentioned himself that he is open to the idea of doing so. He has also mentioned that Mercedes may be facing some big problems in 2018.

Hamilton is the all-time record-holder for career poles with 71, and he trails only Michael Schumacher in career race wins with 61 to Schumacher’s 91. If he wins this season’s championship like he is projected to and claims his fourth career title, he will trail only Schumacher (7 championship) and Juan Manuel Fangio (5) in career Formula One championships.

So why should he consider retiring? After all, he is only 32 years old. Here is what Hamilton had to say about being open to retiring after the 2017 season.

"“My destiny is in my own hands. I can decide to stop at the end of this year. Does that mean my legacy is less great than it would be if I stop in five years’ time? Who’s to say? I don’t like to plan for it because I don’t know what’s around the corner, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Whatever I know I’m going to do, if I apply myself the way I’ve always applied myself in my racing and I apply it to anything else I want to do in life, or even if it’s still in racing, I feel I can achieve great things.”“I’m never going to stop pushing the limits of whatever it is I do with myself and I’m always going to strive for greatness in whatever world it is that I’m in. So I think that mission or that mentality will create my legacy. I can empathise [with former teammate Nico Rosberg], and really understand in some ways, the feeling of wanting to stop and do something different.”“Every now and then I have a thought of what I will do after Formula One. Then I see that car and I am like, ‘I think I am going to stay’. I don’t know how long I will stay, but I am still competitive, still hungry and still driving at my best. Right now it’s solely on competition. It feels the same car as last year [but now] we’re just having a competition. It’s also easier battling another team. There’s a whole mental shift, the whole team’s dynamic shifts in a powerful way. Now having another team [to fight] we are pulling together with that same drive – it’s just so much more powerful, it’s really awesome.”"

So while he in no way hinted that he was going to retire after this season, he certainly isn’t ruling it out. Here is what he had to say about the problems Mercedes looks like they may face in 2018.

"“We’ve done an exceptional job with what we have. There are some really big problems which I can’t really explain to you. But we really need to make sure we rectify them for next year’s cars if we really want to fight both Ferrari and Red Bull when they step up their game.”“There is a lot of work for us to do — but there’s nothing we can do, it’s the way the car is. People have been saying all year long that we’ve got the best car. It’s a fact at some races that the car has turned out to be better but overall, globally, I think it’s worked out that we haven’t.”"

Lewis Hamilton retiring after the 2017 season: SELL

While he did say he was open to retiring following the conclusion of the 2017 season and he does believe Mercedes is set to face big problems in the 2018 season, why would a driver as successful as Hamilton has been over the last few seasons retire?

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And Mercedes’ version of “problems” probably means nothing more than the fact that they may not dominate and win well over half of the races on the schedule like they have in each of the past four seasons. The team’s two drivers will still more than likely be in championship contention, in fact, likely as championship favorites, throughout the entire season.

Look at all of those amazing statistics discussed above that Hamilton has going for him. He has been undeniably unstoppable lately. The only driver who has been able to challenge him for a championship was his teammate Nico Rosberg, who won his first title in 2016 by beating Hamilton by just 5 points (385-380) before retiring shortly after doing so.

So why should Hamilton stop now?

Next: Looking back at Lewis Hamilton's record-setting accomplishment

Lewis Hamilton is just 32 years old and is on pace to win a double-digit race total for the fourth consecutive season, something no Formula One driver has ever done. He is in his prime driving for the best team in the sport and has no reason to hang up his helmet after the 2017 season. Expect him back in 2018.