Hamilton vows not to quit F1 as Ricciardo talks accelerate at Mercedes | Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has insisted he has no plans to retire from Formula One in the near future, following speculation that Mercedes are lining up Daniel Ricciardo as a possible replacement should the seven-time champion retire.

Ricciardo neither confirmed nor denied he was in talks with Mercedes, but admitted he was exploring all possible options.

Two weeks ago McLaren announced they would replace Ricciardo with Oscar Piastri next season and the Australian’s chances of winning an F1 seat for 2023/24 are slim. Hamilton will turn 39 shortly after his current contract with Mercedes expires at the end of next season and with the team off the pace this year, speculation has continued over whether he will race beyond 2023.

It was reported on Thursday morning that Mercedes did not want to risk being without a driver should Hamilton leave and that Ricciardo was considering becoming Mercedes’ reserve driver in 2023, ready to step into his shoes if needed.

Hamilton, who sat next to Ricciardo at the press conference ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza, dismissed suggestions he had plans to leave F1.

“For years we’ve been going up and down with retirement and discontinuation stories,” he said. “I feel healthier than I’ve ever felt, I love what I’m doing and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon – sorry Dan.” When asked if he had held talks with Mercedes, a Ricciardo guard said only “no comment”, suggesting discussions had begun.

“The truth is, I’m keeping every option for next year and for the future,” he said. “I still don’t know what next year will be like. I want to be on the grid, I want to race. Although this has been a difficult time in my career, it hasn’t taken away my love for the sport, that desire to still be here.” Ricciardo’s main option to stay on the grid next year would be to join the Alpine team as a replacement for Fernando Alonso, who is joining Aston Martin.

Hamilton said he believed Ricciardo deserved better than being a reserve driver at Mercedes, but that he would welcome him to the team.

“I think he should fight,” he said. “He’s earned the right to be among us all at the games, but of course if he’s part of our team that would be great. If I were his manager, he would get fights.”

Hamilton faces another tough weekend at Monza on track. After his team’s strategy call cost him a possible victory at the last round in Holland, he will have to replace the power unit in Italy, which will relegate him to the back of the grid. Hamilton had crashed at Spa after hitting Alonso and the damage to his engine in the incident has yet to be repaired, so he is taking new parts beyond his allotment, incurring penalties.

He is currently sixth in the world championship, 30 points behind team-mate George Russell and 152 behind leader Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

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