Lewis Hamilton says the next eight months will likely determine whether he'll be retiring or not from the sport at the end of the year, but the Mercedes star currently believes he'll be on the grid in 2022.
Ahead of the start of the 2021 season, Hamilton signed a one-year contract with Mercedes, a duration that has led to all sorts of speculation regarding the seven-time world champion's future.
Mercedes and Hamilton have said that the belated short term deal suits both parties in the current uncertain global environment, while the two partners also agreed to settle their future together well before the end of this season.
In an interview with Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport, Hamilton reiterated the fact that his decision to remain on the grid in 2022 or not won't depend on the outcome of this year's title fight.
"The position I’m in has nothing to do with whether we are or we’re not winning the championship," he said. "I don’t quit when the going gets tough.
"I wanted a one-year deal and yes, I said to Toto [Wolff] it would be good that when we work on the future together we should talk about it much earlier than January.
"I’m fully committed to this sport. I love what I’m doing. We’re going to have a great battle one way or another and that’s what I’ve always loved."
Although many pundits are predicting that Hamilton will retire at the end of this year's campaign, and even more so if he feels he has a strong chance of securing a record eight world title, the Briton insists his current inclination is to remain an F1 driver next year. But that feeling could change.
"In the current position I’m in, I don’t feel like this is the end," he said. "Of course, we’ve got these [regulation] changes that are happening next year which are exciting.
"I don’t feel like I’m at the end, but in the next eight months or so I’ll find out whether I’m ready to stop or not. I don’t think I will personally, but you never know."
Hamilton admitted that he hasn't yet decided what his life would look like without F1, but the 36-year-old suggested that he could remain involved in the sport in some capacity, if only to ensure the continuation of his efforts to make motorsport more inclusive.
"I could stay involved in F1 after retirement and I think I want to," he explained. "But it's hard for me to think about when I won’t be racing.
"Growing up, I’ve learned that changing things when you’re in them is easier and succeeds better.
"F1 gave me a platform to reach a lot of people, to inform, to send positive messages, to encourage people, to push.