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.