Lewis Hamilton says ready for title fight after ‘difficult’ offseason

There had been doubts over the future of the seven-time world champion following the controversial end to last season’s finale, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But the 37-year-old said that, despite a difficult offseason, he was ready for a stab at an all-time record eighth Drivers’ title.

“I never said I was going to quit,” he said of lingering question marks over his future ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix next month. “I love doing what I do and it’s such a privilege to work with this great group of people.

“It was a difficult time for me and a time when I needed to take a step back.

“Eventually I got to a point where I decided I would attack again, coming to another season working with Toto [Wolff] and George[ Russell]. I think it’s going to be an exciting season.

Mercedes’ launch came the morning after the FIA ​​announced the sacking of its race director Michael Masi, whose controversial Abu Dhabi call-up effectively paved the way for Max Verstappen to overtake race leader Hamilton to win the race and, with it, an inaugural title.

New FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem announced that Masi would be replaced by two men alternating roles: Eduardo Defreitas and Niels Wittich, with the addition of remote race control which was likened to VAR in football .

Following the decision to remove Masi, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “I think it’s very encouraging to see that the action has been the action.

“There is now a much more solid structure for the race director. The FIA ​​said there will be a virtual race control room, state-of-the-art technology and new guys for the Barcelona test. For us, the right steps.

standard Sport

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