Lewis Hamilton: I’m ready to tackle the new season and fight for more success

Lewis Hamilton has said he is ready to tackle the new Formula 1 season when he returns to the public spotlight.

Hamilton, 37, was speaking for the first time since losing the world championship in controversial circumstances to Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi on December 12.

The seven-time world champion was disillusioned following the debacle in the desert and, at one point, it was unclear whether he would return to the grid.

Lewis Hamilton says he’s ready to tackle the new season (Tim Goode/PA)

“I never said I was going to quit,” Hamilton said at the Mercedes launch.

“I love doing what I do, and it’s such a privilege to work with this great group of people and you feel like you’re part of a family. There’s nothing quite like it.

Hamilton was speaking publicly for the first time since the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – and a day after Michael Masi was sacked as race director – when Mercedes launched its new car at Silverstone on Friday.

Hamilton said the race at Yas Marina on December 12 was “manipulated” after Masi appeared to bend the rules to allow British driver Max Verstappen’s rival to claim the title after a late safety car.

Reflecting on the moments following the Yas Marina race, Hamilton, who appeared alongside new team-mate George Russell and team manager Toto Wolff, added: “It was a tough time for me and a time when I I needed to take a step back and focus. on the present.

“I had my family all around me and I created great memories.

“I finally got to a point where I decided I would attack again in another season and work with Toto and George.”

Mercedes has gone from black – installed for two seasons in the fight against racism – to its traditional silver colors for the new campaign.

“It’s probably one of the most exciting times,” Hamilton added. “It feels like the first (launch) again.

“It’s very surreal to think that I’ve been at Mercedes for 10 years.

“Watching George get his seat fitted at the factory reminded me of when I had my first seat fitted with Mercedes in 2013. The journey we’ve had since has been absolutely phenomenal.

“At the start of the year, I haven’t really set myself any goals. Every individual on this team has been working towards the ultimate goal of winning the world championship and raising the bar and doing something that doesn’t matter. has never been done before.

“We did eight [constructors’ titles] and now we have to move on.

Wolff said he never feared Hamilton would quit Formula 1.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Wolff said: “No, I was never worried – although you have to respect the driver is disillusioned after such an event.

“But we have a strong squad and great support, so I knew he was coming back.

“We were all disappointed because the clock never lies and Lewis was clearly the best guy on track in Abu Dhabi, dominating the race and then he got taken down by one individual against all the rules so digesting that is very difficult.

“Like all of us, there was a first shock. We’ve never seen anything like it, so he had to walk away, clear his mind and think about something else, start working on those events and find a solution.

Masi, who is expected to be offered a new position within the FIA, will be replaced by Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich.

Max Verstappen won his first title in controversial circumstances

Max Verstappen won his first Formula 1 title in controversial circumstances (PA Wire)

The duo are set to alternate roles and they will be supported by former race director Charlie Whiting’s deputy Herbie Blash, 73, in a total race control overhaul.

Hamilton is ready for his 16th campaign. When asked if the record-breaking Briton still had the same enthusiasm, Wolff replied: “Yes. Absolutely. He is in love with the sport and we are ready to chase victories and hopefully the World Championship. He’s in the right frame of mind.

“It wasn’t about the race director, or anyone else, but about Lewis coming to terms with how the race ended.

“Lewis is all about fairness and sporting fairness and it wasn’t [in Abu Dhabi]. He needed time to think, he came back strong and in a good mood.

“The most important thing is that we are moving forward. There has been so much talk about Abu Dhabi – and for the right reasons because the end of the Grand Prix is ​​not the end of a Formula 1 world championship – but the FIA ​​has put in place a new structure and we are delighted.”

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