Lewis Hamilton has said he would have no issue in retiring at the end of the 2017 season, admitting that he can “empathise” and “really understand” former teammate Nico Rosberg’s decision to walk away from F1 last year.
Rosberg announced his shock retirement from the sport last December - five days after winning his first world title - and Hamilton is confident that his own legacy would not be tarnished were he to make a similar decision.
The three-time world champion’s current contract with Mercedes expires in 2018, though he has previously spoken of his intentions to sign one more F1 contract that would see him compete into his late thirties.
And speaking Auto, Hamilton insisted that “destiny is in my own hands”.
"My destiny is in my own hands. I can decide to stop at the end of this year," the 32-year-old said. "Does that mean my legacy is less great than it would be if I stop in five years' time? Who's to say?
"I don't like to plan for it because I don't know what's around the corner, I don't know what I'm going to do. Whatever I know I'm going to do, if I apply myself the way I've always applied myself in my racing and I apply it to anything else I want to do in life, or even if it's still in racing, I feel I can achieve great things.
"I'm never going to stop pushing the limits of whatever it is I do with myself and I'm always going to strive for greatness in whatever world it is that I'm in. So I think that mission or that mentality will create my legacy."
Referencing Rosberg’s retirement, Hamilton admitted he understands the “feeling of wanting to stop” but added he remains “hungry” to compete.
"I can empathise, and really understand in some ways, the feeling of wanting to stop and do something different.
"Every now and then I have a thought of what I will do after Formula One. Then I see that car and I am like, 'I think I am going to stay'. I don't know how long I will stay, but I am still competitive, still hungry and still driving at my best."
Hamilton added that he is relishing the “awesome” competition that the current season has brought.
The Briton is currently trailing leader Sebastian Vettel by 12 points, with his championship challenge firmly back on track after he reduced the title deficit with victory in Canada.
“Right now it's solely on competition,” he said. “It feels the same car as last year [but now] we're just having a competition.
"It's also easier battling another team. There's a whole mental shift, the whole team's dynamic shifts in a powerful way.
"Now having another team [to fight] we are pulling together with that same drive - it's just so much more powerful, it's really awesome."
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies