Lewis Hamilton has conceded he retains fears about how he will come to terms with his retirement from Formula 1 when the time eventually comes.
Hamilton is set to renew his Mercedes contract in the coming months to prolong his stint in the sport as he goes in search of that record-breaking eighth Drivers’ world championship.
But the Brit is under no illusions the clock is ticking, having already seen long-term adversaries like Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel retire in years gone by.
Now, Hamilton has openly admitted the impending possibility of following suit has already played on his mind and the impossible situation that will arise in replacing a huge void in his life that’s been there since he burst onto the F1 scene in his rookie season in 2007.
“I love doing what I do”, said Hamilton in an interview with the On Purpose podcast. “It’s gonna be really, really hard when I’ve stopped racing. I’ve been racing 30 years. When you start [thinking]: what’s going to match that?
“Nothing’s going to ever probably match being in the stadium or being at the race and being at the pinnacle of the sport, being at the front of the grid or coming through the grid, that emotion that I get there. When I do stop, there’ll be a big hole.”
Hamilton has, however, long upheld a vested interest in a plethora of things outside of motor racing, including a relentless campaign for racial equality, advocating fervently as an activist for environmentalism and also indulging in the music and fashion industries in recent years.
After speaking with former professional athletes who have been caught out by the sudden change to their lives once their time in sport came to an end, Hamilton is aiming to prolong an active role in his other interests alongside his racing commitments in an attempt to avoid falling into the same trap.
“I think when I’ve spoken to other athletes, if we focus so much on that: being the best you can be in that one thing that the other things that you also love, everything [else] falls away.
“How can you compartmentalise staying in the zone and the focus lane, but also building up some of those other skills and discovering other passions?
“I’ve spoken to some other that are active and retired, a lot of them say – particularly when they retired – that everything kind of fell apart, everything fell to the ground. They had nothing to back it up with and then they discovered what they’re doing next. They go through this emotional journey of discovery, but it takes time.
“So I’m trying to learn from those things, and applying them [to] find the other things that I’m passionate about. So I generally feel today that I have lots of things in the pipeline, that when I do stop I’m going to be so grateful that I have something better that I’m moving on to.
Nevertheless, Hamilton has insisted his competitive mindset will always see him remain a racer first and foremost above anything else.
“But I have no doubt that me and my dad will always have to go to the go-kart track, because I’m always going to be competitive,” Hamilton added. “Yeah, that’s literally a string in my DNA that’s just never going to shift. I’m competitive at everything.”