Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton "honestly hopes" his career in F1 will have been done and dusted by the time he reaches 40 but admits that "life's evolution can surprise".
Hamilton has yet to decided whether he'll be racing on with Mercedes next season or not, although the Briton has repeatedly said that he intends on remaining on the grid in 2022.
The 36-year-old is rumored to have opened negotiations with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff about his future, with a report from Italy alleging that Hamilton has agreed to a lower retainer for next season, but only under the condition that his bonus for winning the world championship be significantly increased.
Both Mercedes and Hamilton have said that they are aiming to strike a new deal over the summer. However, the duration of a potential new contract would be anyone's guess.
"I honestly hope I’m not racing at 40," Hamilton told Italy's Corriere della Sera. "There are so many things I want to do that it would be difficult.
"But in life the evolution is so fast that it can surprise you. For example, I didn’t expect to have as much fun as I am having this season."
Hamilton is being given a tremendous run for his money this season by Red Bull's Max Verstappen who currently leads the world championship.
While the Briton is excited to take on the challenge, he revealed that his enthusiasm this year was also rooted in everything he's learned in the past 12 months leading his life in lockdown mode and broadening his horizons.
"I don’t think it’s because of Max or anyone else," Hamilton said. "The reason is because I’m discovering new things about myself every day.
"With the pandemic lockdowns I’ve had more time to refine my talent, body and mind.
"I’m always competing against myself. I think about how to beat myself, I look at how I was last year and how to beat a seven-time World Champion.
"I don’t look at rivals much, but the new ones are great. Lando Norris, George Russell, Charles [Leclerc], and Carlos [Sainz] above all.
"He has just arrived at Ferrari and he is driving very well, with Leclerc he forms a very strong duo. F1 is in good hands, I predict a bright future."