F1 champion Lewis Hamilton backed to drive on into his 40s

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff believes Lewis Hamilton can stay in Formula 1 beyond his 40th birthday and expects his star driver to commit to at least a two-year contract extension.

Winning duo: Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff.

Hamilton, 36, is riding on the crest of a wave after winning Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix to solidify his best start to a season.

The seven-time world champion has a 14-point cushion over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after winning three of the first four races.

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Following his triumph at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, Hamilton signalled his intention to sign his next Mercedes deal before August’s three-week break.

The Englishman is operating on a one-year contract, agreed just six weeks before the new season.

Team principal Wolff says he believes Hamilton’s next deal will be longer than a 12-month add-on. “Yes, it should be more than a year. We don’t want to be in a stressful situation every single year where we are absolutely flat-out trying to win races and needing to negotiate. I would rather that doesn’t happen every year.

“We just need to spend a day or two together, put it out there, and decide which are the difficult components.

“We will then lock the door and won’t walk out until it is sorted. That works best for us and it has worked best for us in the past. “

Hamilton will be 37 in January, but Wolff, who has overseen his driver’s march to six of the last seven championships, likened the Briton’s longevity to Tom Brady. The NFL star won his seventh Super Bowl at the age of 43 earlier this year.

Asked if Hamilton can compete into his 40s, Wolff replied: “Yes, absolutely. I have no doubt about that. He is so disciplined in a way that is inspiring.

“As long as Lewis continues to look after himself mentally and physically, continues to develop cognitively, then he can go on for much longer.

“Look at Tom Brady and we are talking about an athlete that is on the field. Here is a racing driver that has utilised all his senses.”

Hamilton, whose latest victory moved him to within two of a century, will continue his bid for an unprecedented eighth world title in Monaco a week on Sunday.