Alain Prost believes a happy Lewis Hamilton will not be tempted to quit Formula One and says the privileges afforded to modern drivers enable them to stay at the top for longer.

Championship leader Hamilton is yet to commit to Mercedes beyond 2018, although he is expected to sign a new contract in the near future.

But talk of retirement has also been present over the course of the 2017 season, occasionally fuelled by Hamilton himself, who said in July: "I can't really say what is going to happen six months from now."

Four-time F1 champion Prost says Hamilton, who would match his tally by topping the drivers' standings at the end of the season, can continue to be a success in the sport for many years to come.

"Hamilton is still young," Prost told Omnisport. "We knew when he started in F1 and started to win that he would become a formidable opponent, a record hunter.

"I don't think that's what motivates him. I think that as long as he wins and enjoys what he's doing he'll never stop.

"F1 today, when you are in a team like Mercedes, and you're happy, the quality of life that he has, the great freedom he has; he's in a unique situation. It's something we may have never seen in F1.

"It's not the same life at all [as during my era], even if they race more. It's not comparable. Especially Hamilton, that kind of driver.

"We were speaking about salaries. [They earn] at least 10 times what we used to earn. He has his own private jet; he travels all around the world. That's what allows him to remain a great competitor, to be happy and to have the life he wants to have.

"That's his choice. Mercedes accepts that. I think that it's a great thing. As long as he's successful it's fantastic."

Hamilton is 28 points clear of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in a title tussle Prost described as "beautiful", and the Frenchman believes there is more drama to come.

"Vettel is a driver who never gives up. When he has the car to win, he's fearsome," he added. 

"I think that he hasn't lost yet."