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Lewis Hamilton faces ‘emotional’ test in F1 return ‘to climb back up the mountain’

Lewis Hamilton will find it difficult to continue in Formula One if his Mercedes car is not competitive next season, according to two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen.

Hamilton’s future in the sport remains in doubt following the controversial end to last season which saw the 37-year-old miss out on a record-breaking eighth world championship to Max Verstappen on the final lap of the year.

With Mercedes unveiling their new car this month ahead of the first round of pre-season testing, Hamilton is still to break his silence following the end to last campaign, with his only quotes coming through a team press release.

It comes as Formula One prepares for the biggest overhaul in regulations since 2014 in an attempt to increase overtaking opportunities and reduce the gaps between the teams.

And Hakkinen believes there remains a lot of “question marks” surrounding Hamilton’s future in the sport, and the competitiveness of his car next season could be a factor in his decision.

“Lewis’ journey in Formula One has been really long and there are so many elements which will come into his opinion as to whether to continue,” Hakkinen said.

“Lewis has the confidence. He has been winning, he has been on the top of the podium, and everyone has been looking at him like, ‘Wow, you are great’. He is thinking it must continue this way, so this will be a very interesting year for him.

“The regulations in Formula One have dramatically changed. It will be a completely new machine and the chances are the designers might not find an optimum machine. If that happens to Lewis it will be really hard for him to accept.

“If you have been at the top of the mountain and suddenly you have to climb back up the mountain because you don’t have the best car, it will be emotional for him to control. There are a lot of question marks surrounding Lewis. We don’t know whether he is coming back, but let’s hope he is.”

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