BEIJING, July 3 (Xinhua) — Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has ended speculation over his future by signing a contract extension until 2023 with Mercedes, the team confirmed on Saturday.

The deal extends Hamilton’s nine-year stay with Mercedes, and will take F1’s most successful driver-team partnership into the sport’s new era, with a raft of regulation changes to come in in 2022.

Hamilton had only signed a one-year contract extension in February this year, fueling speculation that the 36-year-old would walk away from F1 at the end of 2021.

Having won 98 Grands Prix, the Briton is statistically the most successful F1 driver of all time, and last year equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships.

With Hamilton’s future now settled, attention now focuses on who might partner him at Mercedes next year. The Briton’s current teammate Valtteri Bottas is out of contract at the end of 2021, and rumors suggest he will be replaced by Williams driver George Russell, who starred in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix as a substitute for an ill Hamilton at Mercedes.