Motor racing-Hamilton plans to continue racing beyond end of current Mercedes deal

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Singapore Grand Prix - Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore - October 1, 2022 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during a press conference after qualifying in third place REUTERS/Caroline Chia

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton on Thursday said he did not plan on retiring from Formula One any time soon.

The Briton, who races for Mercedes, signed a two-year contract with the Brackley-based team last year keeping him at the outfit until the end of 2023 at least.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton said he would race beyond the end of that deal.

"I plan on staying longer," Hamilton said at the Suzuka circuit, adding he definitely wanted to remain with Mercedes in some role for life.

"It's just not set in stone how long."

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff in an interview with Channel 4 that aired over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend said Hamilton, who turns 38 in January, had told him he could go on for another five years.

Hamilton on Thursday said he hadn't spoken to Wolff about his comments but that it was a possibility.

"I'm feeling good," said the Briton, who made his debut in 2007 with McLaren before moving to Mercedes at the end of 2012.

"I love what I'm doing.

"We have a lot of work to do, a lot to achieve still.

"So I'm not planning on going anywhere, any time soon."

Hamilton's run of four successive titles came to an end last year when Red Bull rival Max Verstappen denied him an unprecedented eighth championship on the last lap of a controversial season finale.

The 37-year-old hasn't been in the hunt this year and is still searching for his first win to add to his record 103-victory career haul, with Mercedes having been caught out by the rule changes introduced this season.

Hamilton, a vocal advocate of environmental causes, human rights, social justice, equality and diversity said his main motivation behind continuing would remain fighting for wins and championships.

But he also wanted to carry on so he could continue to make the sport more inclusive.

"There's a lot of work that still needs to be done in this sport," said Hamilton.

"I can't retire now because I'm only just embarking in helping shift and create a more open and inclusive environment here in this sport and I've got to stay to help that continue."

(Reporting by Abhishek Takle; editing by David Evans)

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