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  • Rikki Lambert

Lewis Hamilton's not done yet as Vettel honours James Bond

Updated: Mar 31, 2021

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has made it clear he's unlikely to retire at the end of a season that he hoped would be the most exciting yet.

The 36-year-old Mercedes driver has signed only a one-year contract extension, casting doubt on the intentions for 2022 of the sport's all-time most successful driver and leading personality.

The Briton said on Thursday ahead of Sunday's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix when asked if he was thinking it could be his last year:

"In the current position I'm in, I don't feel like this is the end.
"We've got these (rule) changes that are happening next year which are exciting. I think this looks like it could be the most exciting season yet, we've got new teams, we've got new formats, (it's) getting closer.
"I don't feel like I'm at the end. The next eight months or so I'll find out whether I'm ready to stop or not. I don't think I will personally, but you never know."

Hamilton's Mercedes team have won the last seven drivers' and constructors' titles while the Briton is set to become the first driver to win 100 grands prix with his career tally currently on 95.

He has plenty of outside interests, however, in music and fashion and has also become a prominent campaigner for diversity and equal rights, saying:

"I don't quit when the going gets tough. I wanted a one-year deal... I'm fully committed to this sport. I think this sport is in the best place it's been in terms of steps we are taking.
"I love what I'm doing. I've arrived more excited than I have in a long time... we're going to have a really great battle, one way or another, and that's what I've always loved."

The 2021 season is the last before major rule changes and Mercedes are expected to face a tough task after a difficult three-day test in Bahrain with a car that appeared tricky to handle.

Rivals Red Bull, with hungry young Dutch driver Max Verstappen and experienced Mexican Sergio Perez, had a much better test and looked in good condition to mount a challenge.

"We're in the best shape we can possibly be in considering that we only had three days of testing," said Hamilton.

"There's been a huge amount of analysis, the engineers and guys back at the factory... to try and understand, churn the numbers, quantify and make improvements. I think we come here positive."

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel has named his new Aston Martin Formula One car "Honey Ryder," after the Ursula Andress character in the first James Bond movie, Dr No.

Swiss actress Andress starred as what is regarded as the first Bond girl, with Sean Connery as James Bond back in the 1962 movie.

Aston Martin cars have a long association with Bond movies, featuring for the first time in Goldfinger 1964, with the DB5 the most iconic motor.

Four-time world champion Vettel has given his cars names ever since his first full season in 2008.

His Toro Rosso that year was called "Julie," his Red Bulls included "Hungry Heidi" and "Kinky Kylie" while his last Ferrari in 2020 carried the name "Lucilla".

Vettel joined Aston Martin, rebranded from Racing Point, for the new season which starts on Sunday with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

-- with AAP


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