Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is confident the sport is "robust" enough to "move forward" without Lewis Hamilton if the seven-time champion retires at the end of the season.
Hamilton has a one-year contract with Mercedes after negotiations on a new deal were delayed last year with the team keen only to begin talks once both the drivers' and constructors' titles had been secured.
Talks were further delayed when Hamilton tested positive for Covid-19 in November with the short-term deal finally agreed early this year and although it seems likely the British driver will agree to an extension past this season, there are no guarantees he will continue.
In a call with Wall Street analysts, Domenicali said: "F1 is solid, robust, and whatever Lewis' decision will be, F1 will react and move forward.
"The good news is that if Lewis, as we all hope, will stay, he will have an incredible season in front of him with the new cars, with a new challenge and this may be very interesting for him.
"If he decides a different way around, the good news is that in F1 we have so many good drivers today that at least the challenge, the chances, will be even stronger.
"Therefore, whatever Lewis' decision will be, we will respect it but F1 is really solid and strong."
The importance of Hamilton to F1 cannot however be understated, and this becomes clear when looking at his impact on social media.
On Twitter alone, Hamilton has 6.3million followers, a figure that dwarfs the 5.6 million followers of the official F1 account.
Domenicali added: "For sure Lewis is a great asset. He is doing an incredible job on the sporting side in terms of image. He was able to grow F1 in other areas which were not really specifically related to F1.
"But F1 itself is strong, and drivers and champions are always in a place where one day they may retire.
"I don't know what Lewis is doing, we are talking with him, but of course, now he's focused on his actual season, he is fully boosted to make sure that he'll be the only driver that is going to win eight titles in the history of F1."
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