Opinion: What might retirement look like for Lewis Hamilton?
Lewis Hamilton could be about to sign his last-ever Formula 1 driver contract with Mercedes, after which he very well might hang up his helmet – so what does he do next? This off-season might have just given us a clue…
Lewis Hamilton, last month: “We've got Tommy Hilfiger as our partner, that was through a lot of work for myself building that relationship, and the team was amazing allowing that to happen.
"That's new, exciting blood that's coming into the team. And some other really exciting things are happening throughout the year that I can't wait to come out.”
Four-time world champion Hamilton was positively bubbling over the news that he’d actively helped bring a sponsor to the Mercedes F1 team over the winter, with Tommy Hilfiger replacing its long-standing deal with Hugo Boss.
And it’s not just a sticker on a racing car…
Hilfiger is one of the world’s most-recognised premium designer lifestyle brands. Its latest TOMMYNOW fashion show/party/runway show was in Milan Fashion Week, entitled ‘DRIVE’.
Of course, Hamilton was front and centre, along with team boss Toto Wolff, as well as the glitterati you’d expect at such an event – including Lewis’s supermodel friend Gigi Hadid, whose collaboration with Hilfiger is key to the collection and show.
The fashion arena is one that Hamilton certainly feels very comfortable in, and becoming a 'face' for a brand like Hilfiger is clearly up his street.
The theme of the show was “inspired by Tommy Hilfiger’s love of motorsports, the show combined speed and immediacy with a touch of vintage nostalgia”.
As if to prove that point, I certainly enjoyed Lewis apparently dressed in the colour scheme of the 1992 Lotus F1 car, Hilfiger having sponsored the team throughout the mid-90s. Johnny Herbert will be pleased (lovely car that one)!
Over 2,000 guests attended – including consumers, press, buyers, VIPs and industry influencers – and they watched the models on a racetrack catwalk, all with a pitlane backdrop with a couple of show cars on display too.
They could also experience Mercedes’s F1 Race Simulator and F1 Pitstop Challenge, with Bose speakers (another Merc partner, of course) blaring out the sound of the cars.
Should the next Mercedes contract be Hamilton’s last as an F1 driver, he’ll know only too well from Niki Lauda that he’ll need a fulfilling career outside of the cockpit.
Although he's only 33, Hamilton has often indicated that he'd like to achieve more away from racing, and one wonders how far into the 2020s he will continue to drive.
He's up to 62 wins now – second only to Michael Schumacher's 91 – and an all-time record 72 poles from his 208 grands prix.
I recall asking Fernando Alonso a few years back how many championships he thought Lewis would go on to win, in such a dominant Mercedes, and he replied: "He could win six or more."
It seems like Hamilton’s already planting the seeds for his future with arrangements like this Hilfiger deal, and is promising more to come.
But would that be outside of F1, or still within the paddock?
“Even if I stop, I may still be an integral part of the sport,” said Hamilton. “I have exciting things in the pipeline that would carry on beyond my racing.”
It'll be fascinating to see how that turns out – because I think we've just seen a preview to the main event a few years down the line.
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