Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton believes he can be “100%” satisfied with his Formula 1 career even if he does not compete for Ferrari.
Five-time world champion Hamilton has raced for Mercedes since he joined from McLaren in 2013 and has a deal with the German manufacturer that runs until the end next season.
Yet despite his success at Mercedes, Hamilton has at times in the recent years been linked with a potential Ferrari switch.
Team boss Toto Wolff admitted the appeal of a Ferrari move came up during negotiations for Hamilton’s latest Mercedes contract, while also acknowledging driving for Ferrari is something “probably every driver” wants.
But asked at the Italian Grand Prix whether he would consider his F1 career complete if he retired without racing for Ferrari, Hamilton said: “I think so.
“You’ve got to think that, when you’re part of Mercedes, you’re part of a family for life.
“So, 100%, [I] could finish here and be content. And I’d get to drive Ferraris on the road.
“Will I be upset that I’ve not driven a Ferrari? I don’t think you can dwell on things that you don’t know, really.
“I love the colour [of the car], you see the passion of the crowd, of the team when they’re down below the podium, it’s different to any other place.
“But some things are meant to be, and I don’t know if that’s in the plan for my future. Time will tell.”
Hamilton said he appreciated Mercedes’ loyalty to its drivers, and that “you’re part of the history, and they look after you for the rest of your life”.
But while he suggested he has no plans to leave, he added Ferrari “potentially could be an option” should he at feel the need to make a change.
Hamilton, who finished third at Monza last weekend, has received a mixed reception at the Italian GP venue from the tifosi in the past but said he thinks his standing has improved in recently.
“In actual fact when I now come [to Monza] a lot of Ferrari fans ask me to come to Ferrari, and I get a lot of messages from Ferrari fans who say, ‘I’m a Ferrari fan but I respect you’,” he said.
“It will never be the same as if I was driving for the Ferrari team. Nonetheless, bit by bit it’s shifting.
“They’ve not had a championship since 2007 so there’s that yearning that all fans have of seeing their favourite team succeed, and I’m sure it’s related to the fact that I’ve won the championship for the last few years perhaps.
“But they’ve got two great drivers there now [Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc], I’m sure they’re happy with the new young star they’ve got coming up [Leclerc] and I’m super excited to see how he progresses.”