Hamilton says he plans to race ‘well into’ his 40s

Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton congratulates Fernando Alonso after the 2023 Canadian Grand PrixGetty Images

Lewis Hamilton says he will join his old rival Fernando Alonso in racing in Formula 1 “well into my 40s”.

Alonso’s new Aston Martin deal will keep him in F1 until at least 2026, past his 45th birthday.

Hamilton will be 40 next year when he starts his career with Ferrari, in what is at least a two-year commitment.

“I am not the oldest driver here. I am going to be racing for quite some time still so it is good [Alonso] is still around,” Hamilton said.

“Fernando is one of the best drivers we’ve had in the sport so for him to continue to be here and continue to have the output he’s had just shows what is possible. And shows the new era of athlete, what the human body can do and continue to do if you nurture it.”

Speaking before this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, the seven-time champion added: “I never thought I would be racing into my 40s. I’m pretty sure I said I wouldn’t. But life is such a crazy trip. I don’t feel 40. I generally feel great.”

McLaren driver Lando Norris said Alonso’s achievements in competing for so long at the highest level in Formula 1 might never be seen again.

Norris said: “He is one of the oldest guys competing at the top in any sport.

“And to be able to do that at the level he has done and continues to do, you could potentially never see that again in F1. And if you do, it is going to be extremely rare.”

Norris, who races for McLaren, said he had “a lot of respect” for Alonso’s ability to continue to perform at the highest level for so long.

“It takes a lot of dedication,” the 24-year-old Briton said. “I don’t think anyone thinks Fernando lacks that in any way. He shows that in every part of his life. It is rare that you see someone commit for so long in any sport.”

Frenchman Esteban Ocon, who was Alonso’s team-mate at Alpine in 2021 and 2022, said: “His dedication is an example for all of us.”

Alonso’s commitment to and longevity in F1 is setting a new standard – he will be the first driver to race at the top level into his mid-40s since three-time world champion Jack Brabham, who scored his final win aged 44 in 1970.

Two-time champion Graham Hill continued in F1 until he was 46 in 1975, although – unlike Alonso – he was considered to be well past his best in the final stages of his career.

New sprint format this weekend

A wide-angle view of the Chinese Grand Prix in 2019

Getty Images

The Chinese Grand Prix returns to the calendar for the first time since 2019, after a break for the pandemic, China’s handling of the disease and the effects of Covid lockdowns in the country.

It also marks the first ‘sprint’ weekend of the new season, being run to a slightly different format than last year.

This season, the new approach is to have qualifying for the ‘sprint’ event on Friday afternoon.

The ‘sprint’ – a shorter race about one-third the distance of a grand prix – runs on Saturday morning, at 04:00 UK time (11:00 local in Shanghai).

This is followed by qualifying for the grand prix on Saturday afternoon before the main race as normal on Sunday.

World champion Max Verstappen said the new format “makes more sense” than last year’s, when the sprint events were separated out on the Saturday and qualifying for the grand prix was on Friday.

Another rule change this year allows teams to change their cars after the sprint if they are unhappy with the set-up.

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