As Sir Lewis Hamilton celebrates his 300th race start in France this weekend, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes that his driver could make it to 400 if he wants to.
There were rumours at the end of last season, after Hamilton had cruelly lost out to Max Verstappen on his eighth world title, that the 37-year-old was about to call it a day in the pinnacle of motorsport, but this was something that barely crossed his mind as he returned for the 2022 season.
The 37-year-old has been on the podium in all of the last three races, and he dragged the underperforming W13 car to fourth on the grid for Sunday’s French Grand Prix in Le Castellet.
Hamilton is currently tied on seven world titles with Michael Schumacher, and Wolff theorises that, if he can break the tie and grab his eighth, there is no reason why he cannot go on to retire on a more round number.
“We talked a few weeks ago about how long a partnership can go and the figure discussed was about five to 10 years, so I think we can go to 400 [races],” he said.
“Someone said you have to win the eighth, so why not 10?”
Hamilton’s performance in France on Saturday came amid what has been a difficult weekend for Mercedes, despite the fact that they initially entered the weekend with higher expectations.
The Briton was nine tenths of a second adrift of polesitter Charles Leclerc, which is a considerable margin, and “not good enough” as far as Wolff is concerned.
“I think that we knew that once we got the new tyres on and that we are driving the car in anger a little bit that we’re going to be there as a third force like we’ve been all season,” he told Sky Sports.
“But it’s just not good enough, you can see that when you’re a little bit on the back foot, your expectations are on a certain level for the race weekend, and it doesn’t come together, a kind of freestyling starts.
“With us, it was mainly experimenting with rear wing levels and also tyre temperatures, but at the end, the overall package is just not quick enough and we can see that.”
The Austrian described Hamilton’s performance as “immense” as the Silver Arrows prepare to challenge for their eighth podium of the season from fourth and sixth on the grid after Lando Norris split Hamilton and George Russell.