Hamilton conserves energy to seek an 8th title

Lewis Hamilton took almost two months to recover emotionally from the controversial end of the Formula One season that prevented him from breaking a record eight championships.

But the Mercedes driver insists he never thought of withdrawing from F1 in protest.

Once resigned to the results, Hamilton put the debacle behind him and began preparations for the upcoming campaign.

“Moments like this could define careers. I refuse to let him define mine”, commented the British pilot, from the headquarters of the Mercedes team in Brackley, England.

In December, Hamilton dominated the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and was five laps away from overtaking Michael Schumacher as the driver with the most championships in history. But a crash by Nicholas Latifi caused the yellow flag to be raised and triggered a series of events that altered the ending.

F1 race director Michael Masi had a change of heart when deciding how the race would end. Max Verstappen, who had pitted for new tyres, was lined up second behind Hamilton when all traffic behind the title contenders was removed.

The race resumed with one lap remaining. And with old tires, Hamiton could not do anything to prevent the victory of the Dutchman Verstappen, who passed him to win the crown for the first time.

On Thursday, the FIA ​​announced sweeping changes to its race control procedures and sacked Masi, after extensively reviewing what happened at the end of the season.

Mercedes has accepted the results of the review and Hamilton has said he is ready to try again to be the sole record holder.

The Briton denies having a falling out with Verstappen. He assures that he also communicated to offer support to Latifi, who received death threats after the chaotic end.

“I have no grudges with anyone. I never thought it was good to carry that around, ”she said. “I moved on, I don’t stay in the past. I feel centered and focused. I don’t feel like I’m carrying a load on my shoulders that can stop me this year.

“If you think what you saw at the end of last year is the best I have to offer, wait until you see this year.”

Hamilton won three successive races to catch up with Verstappen in the drivers’ world championship ahead of the decisive race in Au Dhabi. He dominated the competition and led for 51 of the 58 laps.

Verstappen took the lead only on the final lap and seized the scepter.

Hamilton gave only a brief interview after getting out of his vehicle. However, he looked shaken on the podium as Vestappen and Red Bull celebrated.

He was absent from the mandatory post-race press conference. He boycotted the gala party to mark the end of the campaign and made only one public appearance—three days after the race, when he was knighted at Windsor Castle.

Hamilton’s withdrawal from the public eye did little to quell rumors that he was so disgruntled that he had contemplated leaving F1 after scoring 103 wins in 15 seasons.

It finally resurfaced earlier this month, with a post on social media. On Friday, she participated in the launch of the new Mercedes car for the upcoming season.

Hamilton took questions for about 2 minutes on Friday, saying he spent the time after the Abu Dhabi race with his whole family, looking to switch off.

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