LONDON – Lewis Hamilton has vowed to reign supreme in Formula One for years to come as the world champion prepares for the start of the new season next weekend.
British star Hamilton is reportedly ready to sign a new contract with Mercedes, which could earn him up to £40 million ($55 million) per year and solidify his position as British sport's highest earner.
That would be the ideal preparation for Sunday's season opener in Melbourne as Hamilton eyes a fifth world championship.
Along with Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio, he would be only the third F1 driver to have won the title more than four times.
Even that historic feat wouldn't be enough for Hamilton to walk away from the sport however.
"It doesn't feel like the start of the final chapter, and I don't feel as though I am about to embark on my last contract," Hamilton said.
"I am not sure how I will feel in two or three years' time but I am back here in March for my 12th season and I am so excited.
"I don't know where it comes from – this feeling of just wanting to excel – but I really, really, more than anything currently in my life, want to excel next weekend.
"I want to arrive in Melbourne fit. I want to hit my target weight. I want to kill it through practice, get pole position and I want to win the race convincingly.
"I don't know how long this feeling is going to last when I go into a new season, but as long as I am still feeling like this I will keep going."
Hamilton won last year's championship with two races to spare.
But he kept a low profile over the winter following criticism he received for comments he made in an Instagram video about his young nephew wearing a princess dress.
Hamilton embarked on a mass deleting spree across both his Instagram and Twitter accounts - of which he has a combined 12 million followers - in the wake of the backlash.
"Everyone has an opinion about everything," Hamilton said. "The world is moving drastically and no-one is perfect.
"We have a pie chart of our brand, what it means and we are constantly evolving that.
"I am working with my team to figure out how we get our message across of where we have come from.
"For example, what we have done as a working-class family is very different to a story of another racing driver."