Lewis Hamilton says it doesn’t feel like he’s heading into his final season in Formula 1 amid the ongoing speculation surrounding his long-term future.

Having only agreed a new contract with Mercedes back in February, Hamilton’s fresh deal only covers the 2021 season without a longer commitment.

The Briton’s decision to pen a one-year contract has led to suggestions he could decide to call time on his F1 career at the end of the year, especially if he wins a record-breaking eighth drivers’ title.

Asked if he felt he could be entering what could prove his final year in F1, Hamilton said, as quoted by Motorsport.com: “No, I don’t. In the current position I’m in, I don’t feel like this is the end.

“Of course we’ve got these changes that are happening next year, which is exciting, and I think this looks like it could be the most exciting season yet.

“We’ve got new teams, new formats, it’s constant. I don’t feel like I’m at the end, but only the next eight months or so will I find out whether I’m ready to stop or not. I don’t think I will personally, but you never know.”

Given how late Hamilton’s current deal took to finalise, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has stressed talks over a potential contract extension will happen earlier in the year to avoid a repeat scenario.

Hamilton is clear a decision regarding his future won’t be influenced by the overall competitiveness of Mercedes, insisting he’s “excited” by the prospect of a championship battle with Red Bull in 2021.

“The position I’m in has nothing to do with whether we are or we’re not winning a championship,” Hamilton said. “I don’t quit when the going gets tough.

“I wanted a one-year deal and yes, I said to Toto it would be good, if we are to work on the future together, we should talk about it much earlier than January, just before testing starts.

“I’m fully committed to this sport. This sport is in I think the best place it’s been in terms of the steps we’re taking. I’m really proud of what F1 is doing in terms of acknowledging that they have a great platform to work towards a better world.

“And I love what I’m doing. I’ve arrived more excited I think than I have in a long time. I just said to Bono [race engineer Peter Bonnington], ‘I’m excited to get going’.

“We’re going to have a really great battle one way or another and that’s what I’ve always loved.”