Lewis Hamilton offered an hilarious reaction on Sunday when asked if he was planning to stay around for 100 more F1 races. In France, the Mercedes man became only the sixth driver in the history of his sport to reach the 300 Grand Prix mark, following Kimi Raikkonen (353), Rubens Barrichello (326), Fernando Alonso (347), Jenson Button (309), and Michael Schumacher (308).
And Hamilton’s landmark race also represented his best showing of the season, finishing second behind eventual winner Max Verstappen. That’s despite both he and teammate George Russell being notably off the pace set by Ferrari and Red Bull in both practice and qualifying.
The 37-year-old has now made the podium in four consecutive races, following a harrowing start to the season. In Saudi Arabia, there was widespread shock when Hamilton failed to make it out of Q1, and there was further humiliation to come at Emilia Romagna when he was lapped by 2021 title rival Verstappen.
It prompted rumours the star was set to retire before the year was out, having only confirmed in February that he would be returning for this campaign. That notion now appears remote, and in his post-race press conference at the Paul Ricard Circuit, the seven-time world champion was even asked about the possibility of racking up 400 Grands Prix.
The star’s reaction spoke volumes, with him dropping his microphone and staring at the reporter in an apparent show of disbelief. To his left, Dutchman Max Verstappen was also amused, smirking as he waited for Hamilton to answer. Hamilton eventually hinted he could well make that landmark though, saying: “That’s a lot of races. I firstly just want to be grateful to get to this point but I still feel fresh and still feel like I’ve got plenty of fuel left in the tank.
“I’m enjoying what I’m doing, I’m really proud and am enjoying arriving every day and working with this incredible group of people. I’m also enjoying working with the sport more than ever. We’ve got some great people leading the sport and having great conversations about the directions we are going as a sport so I’m enjoying it more than ever.”
With the current schedule, Hamilton would need to complete this 2022 season, and then sign up to four more to make the 400 figure. Were he to do that without taking a break from F1, he would be 41 by the time he reached that mark.
At 40, Alonso is currently the most senior driver on the circuit. The record for the oldest man ever to compete in an F1 Grand Prix belongs to Louis Chiron, who was 58 when he took part in the Monaco race, on his home circuit, in 1958.
With the Silver Arrows continuing to show improved pace, the marker that is more likely to be occupying Hamilton’s mind is an unprecedented eighth world title. His current record of seven is shared with German legend Schumacher.