Lewis Hamilton will be a Mercedes driver until the end of 2023 after recently signing a two-year extension, however Ralf Schumacher believes the team only looked into keeping the Briton after being turned down by Max Verstappen.
The Silver Arrows and the Briton will continue their relationship after putting pen to paper on a new contract back in early July. Hamilton has been with the team since 2013 and while their partnership has been a successful one, Schumacher thinks Mercedes only agreed to keep the seven-time World Champion once it was clear they wouldn't be able to land Verstappen.
"For me [the extension] means above all that Max has turned down Mercedes," Schumacher told Sport Bild. "I think there was hope at Mercedes that with Max in the cockpit they would be able to plan out their future.
"That idea is now gone, and Lewis was the only alternative in my opinion. Red Bull now has a great time ahead with Verstappen."
Although Hamilton will be 38 by the time his new contract expires, Schumacher believes the Briton should continue to drive for as long as he wants rather than retire and then comeback further down the road.
"I think it's better to drive for a longer period of time and then stop completely rather than stopping early and then making a comeback," Schumacher added. "Lewis is still in the mix, he is still fast.
"Instead, one should ask why Kimi Raikkonen is still driving at 41. His best days are long behind him."