Lewis Hamilton is fully aware that he is approaching the end of his glittering career in Formula One, according to Sky Sports F1 expert Martin Brundle. The Mercedes driver is currently gearing up to battle Max Verstappen for Drivers’ Championship glory once again over the coming months as he looks to avenge last year’s crushing defeat when the new season gets underway in Bahrain this weekend.
Hamilton was cruelly denied a record-breaking eighth title under wildly controversial circumstances at last year’s decisive Abu Dhabi Grand Prix back in December.
He drove a near-perfect race to build up a healthy lead over Verstappen before the Dutchman was bizarrely allowed to close up to him during a last-gasp safety car period.
The Red Bull man reaped the rewards of former race director Michael Masi’s decision to allow only the five lapped cars between the two leaders to un-lap themselves ahead of the one-lap shootout that followed.
Verstappen went on to squeeze ahead of Hamilton before taking the chequered flag at the Yas Marina Circuit to rubber-stamp his maiden Drivers’ Championship triumph in dramatic fashion.
Hamilton was left aggrieved by the outcome and was said to have been weighing up the idea of walking away from the sport during the winter break.
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The 37-year-old ultimately returned to Mercedes ahead of last month’s three-day test in Barcelona but Brundle is adamant that he already knows his days in F1 could be numbered.
“[As long as] he’s still got a winning car and winning speed, he’ll keep doing it,” said Brundle when quizzed by Express Sport on Hamilton’s future.
“It’s absolutely clear and he’d be the first to admit that he’s much nearer the end of his F1 career than the beginning, there’s no doubt about that.
“When you see 13 years between him and Max, that’s quite telling at this level and it’d be telling at any level of world-class sport.”
Hamilton has enjoyed a stellar 14-year career in F1 after making his debut in the sport with McLaren back in 2007.
He managed to clinch a remarkable second-placed finish in the Drivers’ Championship standings at the end of his first season after storming to the GP2 title a year earlier.
The Brit also equalled Jacques Villeneuve’s long-standing record for the most wins in a rookie season by claiming the spoils on no less than four occasions.
His maiden title arrived in 2008 when he overtook Timo Glock on the last corner of the final race in Brazil to etch his name into F1 folklore.
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Hamilton would then be forced to undergo a six-year wait for his next triumph in 2014 at the end of his second season as a Mercedes driver.
He repeated the feat in 2015 to seal back-to-back titles before he was beaten to the post by Nico Rosberg in Abu Dhabi a year later.
A four-year period of dominance then followed before Verstappen managed to break the cycle at the end of last season.
It remains to be seen whether Hamilton will be able to respond by pipping his Red Bull rival to this year’s honours when the action finally resumes at this week’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
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