Formula 1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart predicts Lewis Hamilton will “burn out” and choose to retire from the sport before he matches Michael Schumacher’s record tally of seven world championships. Hamilton was made to wait to secure the 2018 title at the United States Grand Prix, but is near certain to do so in Mexico next weekend.
Mercedes struggled for pace at the Circuit of the Americas and a questionable strategy left Hamilton third in Austin, Texas as Kimi Raikkonen took victory for Ferrari.
There was no damage done to Hamilton’s title prospects, however, as Sebastian Vettel finished fourth after another early spin.
It leaves Hamilton requiring just a top-seven finish at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez this week to become a five-time world champion.
Hamilton’s former Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and fellow British icon Nigel Mansell have both tipped the 33-year-old to match and even exceed Schumacher’s benchmark.
However, Stewart – world champion in 1969, 1971 and 1973 – disagrees and believes that Hamilton will run out of steam long before then.
Discussing how short his career was compared to Hamilton’s, Stewart told the BBC: “In those days we drove sports cars, GT cars, IndyCars, Can-Am cars – all sorts of cars.
“So we were racing a lot more. These guys only do 21 races a year, but there’s still a lot of testing, there’s still a lot of appearances you’ve got to do.
“You just, like in most sports, you burn out – and he will burn out. He will choose to retire.”
Hamilton is contracted at Mercedes until 2020 – meaning title successes in those remaining years would take him level with Schumacher’s tally.
Hamilton currently has a 70-point lead over Sebastian Vettel as the paddock heads to Mexico. If Hamilton wins, no matter where Vettel finishes, he will win the title.