This weekend’s race at Paul Ricard marks Hamilton’s 300th grand prix, with the seven-time world champion becoming just the sixth driver in F1’s history to reach the milestone.
Hamilton’s current deal runs until the end of the 2023 F1 season but Wolff hinted at the prospect of the 37-year-old extending his contract.
“We talked a few weeks ago about how long our partnership can go and the figure discussed was about five to 10 years, so I think we can go to 400,” Wolff replied when asked if Hamilton could compete in another 100 races.
“Someone once said you have not just got to win the eighth – why not ten? Says he who is a second of the pace,” added Wolff with a laugh.
Curiously, no F1 driver has ever won a race after passing the 300 starts mark.
Hamilton is currently enduring his longest winless drought in F1, a run that stretches back to last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 5.
If Hamilton fails to win by the time the chequered flag falls at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November, his record of being the only F1 driver to have taken at least one grand prix victory in every season completed would come to an end.
Mercedes qualifying performance a ‘slap in the face’
Hamilton will have his work cut out if he is to win his 300th F1 race. The Briton ended up fourth in qualifying but was 0.9s adrift of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and over 0.6s behind 2021 title rival Max Verstappen.
Mercedes have a strong record at Paul Ricard, having won two of the three races to have taken place at the Le Castellet venue since the revival of the French Grand Prix in 2018.
France had been pinpointed as a race where the Mercedes W13 should be strong, with many tipping it as the German manufacturer’s best shot of victory so far this season.
Mercedes have introduced further updates to their car this weekend with the aim of cutting the deficit to rivals Ferrari and Red Bull, but the Silver Arrows once again lagged behind in terms of one-lap pace.
“Expectation management is a bit of a thing this year, because we were slowly but surely working our way back to the front runners,” Wolff said after qualifying. “There were good signs in Silverstone and then we went to Austria – a track where we are normally not competitive at all – and we were close.
“Then we brought quite a nice update package to Paul Ricard, a track that’s smooth, and off we go to hunt them down and then no performance… like, no performance.
“We can’t figure out what went wrong. We experimented with rear wings, with almost the biggest we have, which Lewis described as dragging a parachute behind him in the morning, to a smaller version that makes us lose too much speed in the corners.
“Then we were experimenting with tyre temperatures and you can see we are now 0.7s to Verstappen – the Ferrari lap is a bit of an outlier with the tow here with Sainz – but if you would told me we would be 0.7s to 0.9s off the pace ahead of the weekend then that would be a bit of slap in the face.”