Ex-McLaren and Red Bull driver David Coulthard believes that three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton could quit Formula 1 mid-season if he loses his passion for the sport.
Hamilton enters 2017 chasing a fourth title, and is the favorite for the drivers’ crown following ex-Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement last December, announced just five days after the German’s first championship win.
Hamilton has previously said that he is working on plans for a life away from F1 once he retires, enjoying a growing celebrity status and also working on music between races.
Speaking to the Daily Express newspaper in England, Coulthard – who spent two years on the grid with Hamilton before his retirement in 2008 – said he would not be surprised to see the Briton call it quits if he grew disillusioned with F1.
“It wouldn’t take much for him to say, for want of a better word, ‘f**k it, thank you, I’m off’,” Coulthard said.
“It could be sooner than we may all want. He’s got enough money to make those decisions.
“When things are working well you see the passion, you can see the little boy in the man. But when you see him being asked the same questions day in day out, you can see the eyes glaze over.
“And when that passion goes, you can fool the people but you can’t fool yourself.
“He could even go during the season.”
At 32, Hamilton is one of the oldest drivers racing in F1 currently, having made his debut 10 years ago in Australia.
Coulthard’s comments follow those of fellow racer-turned-pundit Damon Hill, who said earlier this week that Mercedes had to be willing to give Hamilton freedom, or risk losing him to a rival team.
The new F1 season begins on March 26 in Melbourne, Australia, with the race weekend being shown live across NBCSN and the NBC Sports App.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.