Is this Lewis Hamilton’s final lap in Formula One? Mercedes star is plotting his eighth championship title ahead of season opener in Bahrain, but time is catching up with the Brit – and so is rising star Max Verstappen

There may only be one act of genius left in the kaleidoscopic career of Lewis Hamilton — a final flourish and a parting gift wrapped together. Hamilton certainly gave the impression that he was less than thrilled with his terms. But we are still talking about Hamilton, a warrior and serial winner, and about Mercedes, the team of the era. Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, ponders whether Hamilton will win an unprecedented eighth title in 2021. That aside, Hill does not believe Hamilton is hindered by advancing age, saying: ‘Lewis has done it all with what appears to be consummate ease. ‘I know he would deny that and say it has been very hard — and there are races when he has needed to find another gear and has done so. And if Hamilton prevails in all the circumstances, it may even rank as his greatest victory, as well as his last.

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