Speaking to the latest edition of the in-house FIA magazine Auto, the triple world champion said: “I can decide to stop at the end of this year.”
But the quote triggered unexpected headlines, and in Baku the Briton hit reverse gear.
“I can’t even remember this interview,” he said.
One suggestion is that although Hamilton has a contract for 2018, he might decide to ‘do a Rosberg’ and make room at Mercedes for a younger driver if he wins the title.
“I don’t feel like it’s time to make room for someone,” Hamilton insists.
“Of course, it’s also my dream – as it is for many athletes – to stop at the top of my game. But if you do, you don’t know what you would have achieved after that.
“Many athletes stopped too early, so you don’t want that either,” he added.
So with seats potentially vacant at Ferrari for 2018, does Hamilton rule out taking on a new challenge with F1’s most famous team?
“I’m not thinking of a change to Ferrari,” he answered.
“All I’m thinking about is how I can beat Ferrari. I don’t make a secret of the respect I have for them and how important the brand is to the sport, and I’m also a big fan of their road cars.
“Who knows what the future holds for me? But I can’t imagine driving for Ferrari now,” said Hamilton.