Sir Lewis Hamilton’s long, drawn-out contract process has allowed the rumour mill to go into overdrive before breaking down and turning into a full-scale merry-go-around.

There’s been plenty of ‘will he? Won’t he? He’s being pushed out!’ commentary from various news services of late – like we’re living some kind of Formula 1 romcom (don’t even think about it, Netflix).

But I think there is one important point that is often forgotten about – are we actually ready to say goodbye to possibly the greatest Formula 1 driver in history?

If Lewis Hamilton announced tomorrow he would not sign a new deal with Mercedes in 2021, it would leave a huge gap on the grid and would feel, if nothing else, flat.

He’s won seven F1 Driver’s Championships, won more races than anyone else, and has helped carry Mercedes to absolutely dominate the Hybrid Era since its inception in 2014.

He wins. All the time. By a lot.

At times, I think Formula 1 fans take him for granted. The memes, the articles, and discussions all seem to announce that the F1 world would suddenly become competitive if he were to retire.

I disagree. I think Valterri Bottas and, most likely, George Russell would dominate the field in 2021 – the 2020 W11 Mercedes is STILL possibly the greatest car ever.

And our friends, Bottas and Russell, would still be in a version of that car – albeit with a new floor and the removal of DAS – and they’d get the job done. DAS or no DAS.

Season 2021 is predicted to be a 2020-lite, or version 2.0.

Yes, we would all get around a fight to the championship which is not decided until the final round.

But we shouldn’t discredit Sir Lewis because he has helped develop the car with his engineers and, bluntly, drives better than anyone else.

Off the track, Hamilton is one of the world’s most vocal sportspeople. He IS MAKING a difference through his own initiative.

His #EndRacism and the #WeRaceAsOne campaigns were highlighted by a man standing up for everybody to make the sport he loves inclusive.

I think he is an incredible advocate for the sport. For people. And just as a human being. He has a competitive side, but what driver does not?

We deserve a Lewis Hamilton retirement series. He deserves the accolades and constant stories about his career as he winds up. He’s earned the celebration.

F1 would feel very shallow without Lewis in 2021. And if he does decide to hang up the steering wheel, he deserves a chance to score a record-breaking eighth Driver’s Championship.

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