Daily Sabah (Turkey)

Hamilton ready for F1 return after title heartbreak

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FORMULA One superstar Lewis Hamilton said Friday he was fully prepared for the new season after a dramatic end to his world championsh­ip campaign in 2021.

The British driver, 37, was speaking for the first time since he lost the championsh­ip in controvers­ial circumstan­ces to Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 12.

Hamilton was poised to capture a record-breaking eighth world title at the season finale before a controvers­ial safety car restart allowed Dutch driver Verstappen to pass his British rival on the last lap.

The seven-time world champion was disillusio­ned following his defeat and, at one stage, it was unclear if he would return to the grid.

But Hamilton, speaking at the launch of the Mercedes car for the 2022 season – and a day after Michael Masi was removed as F1 race director – said he was still hungry for more success.

“I never ever said I was going to stop,” he insisted.

“I love doing what I do, and it is such a privilege working with this large group of people and you feel like you are part of a family. There is nothing quite like it.”

Hamilton said the race at Yas Marina was “manipulate­d” after Masi’s decision to allow the race to restart, which ultimately handed Verstappen the chance to win the title.

Reflecting on the moments after the race, Hamilton, who appeared alongside new teammate George Russell and team boss Toto Wolff, added: “It was a difficult time for me and a time where I needed to take a step back and focus on the present.

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

“I eventually got to a point where I decided I would be attacking again coming into another season and working with Toto and George.”

 ?? ?? This undated photo shows Mercedes’ British F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, London, England.
This undated photo shows Mercedes’ British F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, London, England.

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