Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2021

Hamilton ‘needed to step back’ from F1 after ‘difficult’ end to 2021

2022 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says he needed to take a step back from Formula 1 during the off-season after he lost the 2021 world championship in controversial circumstances to Max Verstappen.

Hamilton had led the entirety of the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix until a late Safety Car period. Former FIA F1 race director Michael Masi allowed the five lapped cars between Hamilton and rival Verstappen to un-lap themselves before restarting the race on the final lap, breaking with previous procedure.

The decision left Hamilton vulnerable to attack from Verstappen, who passed Hamilton on his old hard tyres and take the win and the championship.

Speaking publicly for the first time since Abu Dhabi at the launch of the Mercedes W13, Hamilton said that he never had any intention of not returning to racing.

“I never ever said I was going to stop,” Hamilton said. “I love doing what I do and it is such a privilege working with this large group of people and you really feel like you’re part of a family, a part of a team and you’re working towards that common goal. There’s no feeling quite like it.”

Hamilton explained that he took time with his family during the winter before deciding he was ready to ‘attack’ the new season and new regulations alongside new team mate George Russell.

“It was obviously a difficult time for me and it was a time where I really needed to take a step back and focus on being present,” he explained. “I had my family all around me creating great moments. I eventually got to a point where I decided I was going to be attacking again coming into another season and working with Toto and George.”

Having worked alongside Russell for a number of years during his new team mate’s time as a Mercedes junior driver, Hamilton says he is excited about the prospect of racing alongside Russell this season.

“It is exciting seeing George come in and bring his energy,” said Hamilton. “I can already feel that throughout the team and I think it’s going to be an exciting season.

“It’s always a positive when you have new blood, new energy. George has had an amazing career so far – not only in just getting to Formula 1 but what he’s done within Formula 1. I think it’s going to be exciting to see him grow and work with him.

“I’ve had him sitting behind me before at the desk when we’re working away on getting the setup on the race weekend. Now I’m working naturally opposite from him, but collaborating with him and hopefully steering the car in the same direction. So yeah, I’m excited for that.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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7 comments on “Hamilton ‘needed to step back’ from F1 after ‘difficult’ end to 2021”

  1. Perfectly normal for a human being whether poor or rich just to want to take time out to themselves. No matter ones opinion of him he is still only human

    1. If could afford it would disappear from my job for a month too. If I were him I would be having a tough time figuring out if I should retire and use my millions and influence to do many things that feel important to me, while I’m still young, or instead continue in one passion I have had since I was a kid, that also happens to be fairly dangerous. If he had won the title I think he would have quit.

  2. Positive as ever, and that energy. I have a good feeling about him for this year.

  3. They way Hamilton handled the situation, from the moment he stepped out of the car in Abu Dhabi, is truly admirable. Very impressive. It is just a shame that others abused his silent approach as an indication that he was leaving the sport. It was never a real scenario.

  4. I mean, he stepped back at the end of the last race and stepped forward at the car launch.

    Fairly standard.

  5. I have much greater respect for Hamilton after what happened to him in Abu Dhabi. From the moment he stepped out of the car, he handled it with more grace than any other driver could. Hopefully the time off was good for him, but not so much so that he dominates even harder this year!

  6. Lewis. Legend. Now more than ever.

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