Hamilton to triumph and retire, says McLaren boss

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McLaren team boss Zak Brown

Lewis Hamilton is set to claim an unprecedented eighth drivers’ world title – and then leave Mercedes and retire from Formula One, predicted rival team boss Zak Brown of McLaren.

Brown, the architect of McLaren’s resurgence after a spell in the doldrums, told the Daily Mail he believed Max Verstappen of Red Bull and George Russell of Williams will be recruited by Mercedes in an all-new line-up for 2022.

He added that he would not be keen to offer Hamilton a return to McLaren next year because he was building the team for the future with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Brown explained that it would be "bad timing" if Hamilton wanted to find a seat next year.

The seven-time champion’s decision to sign only a one-year contract with Mercedes has made his future the subject of intense speculation as the F1 circus prepares for the start of a record 23-race season to run under Covid-19 restrictions.

"If I had an opening, would I put Lewis in the car? Of course, but we are trying to build for the future -- hence this kind of youth-and-experience combination," Brown was quoted saying.

"You feel if you brought Lewis back now it would be for a one or two-year journey and we know we are not ready to compete for championships, so we need to set up a driver line-up that gets us to that position and that when we reach it they are ready.

"Daniel is ready now, of course. I don’t think the timing is right for Lewis.”

On Mercedes future plans, he added: “I think you will see Max and George there in 2022. I think that’s the obvious conclusion.

"Lewis wins title No 8 this year and is the winningest driver in every category. They have a one-year deal with him. George is coming out of his deal and Max has a deal he comes out of.

"You have Max’s experience and youth. You have George’s youth. If I’m Mercedes, that’s a pretty ‘killer line-up’ for the next five years."

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