Lewis Hamilton speaks on having no issues with Max Verstappen as he adds on social media situation with Nicholas Latifi plus his own mindset.
Two months on from that race, that passing manoeuvre and that decision regarding lapped cars, Hamilton is back, returning after a form of sabbatical when a certain section created retirement rumours with unsubstantiated claims, linking his disillusion with retirement.
One could think and feel that he might feel or even express negativity towards Verstappen and the FIA after the decision-making process in Abu Dhabi but in hindsight, far from it. As Toto Wolff alluded to before, Hamilton sticks with the notion that the Dutchman did nothing wrong in the case and it doesn’t their relationship.
“This has nothing to do with Max and Max did everything a driver would do given the opportunity,” said Hamilton to written media. “He’s a great competitor and we will go into another battle like we did last year and conduct ourselves hopefully, we will obviously grow through our experiences last year in races and throughout the season, but no issues with him, I don’t hold any grudges with anybody.
“I don’t think that’s a good thing to carry around with you so I move forwards and I don’t dwell on the past and as I said before I feel fresh, I feel centred and fully focused I don’t have anything holding me back this year, not that I did last year but I’m not letting that experience be one of those,” summed up Hamilton.
Last season’s title battle was one to savour and no doubt helped the sport garner so many more fans throughout campaign attracted by how the 22 race season unfolded. While there were so many positives, there was also some negatives and Nicholas Latifi’s crash which caused so many decisions at the last race in Abu Dhabi.
Accusations, hostility and even death threats towards the Canadian. It would be a tragedy if the sport were to go down that avenue. Yes, everyone wants to win but within the spirit of the game. Latifi had to hire bodyguards at one point to roam around in London as he took to social media to share his thoughts on the death threats he got.
“Ultimately I don’t think there’s been a huge change or shift or enough work that’s been done by these social platforms,” said Hamilton. “We still have to apply pressure for them to make changes. Mental health is a real thing and through these social platforms people are experiencing abuse and no-one deserves that and it should never be tolerated, and they’re able to change these things but they don’t seem to do it quick enough so we just need to continue to apply pressure.
“I was in touch with Nicholas, he has my full support as I know how difficult it can be in those situations for him to know that he has support from people around him, but on another side of things you can see there’s so much passion in this sport which really makes this sport so great, there is so much passion. We’ve got to channel that in a positive way not a negative,” summed up Hamilton.
Runner up last season in what was a very successful year. So many others would take Hamilton’s success in 2021 in a heartbeat but having won the previous four campaigns and at ease too, he could be forgiven for feeling a little disenchanted at having finished runner up and the nature of that too. All records out the window and one more to go for, an eighth World Driving Title, no doubt that is a massive motivational factor and coupled with such long seasons now and shorter breaks, the turnaround time is not as much but that can help too giving less time to dwell on disappointment.
“With these long season the off-time isn’t as long as you’d hope for, they seem to get shorter and shorter,” said Hamilton. “Over the years I’ve learned how to be efficient with my time, recovery, training and building backup your body and mind. But I feel great, I feel fit and naturally when you have another year of experience under your belt that always helps.
“I always feel like through these sort of experiences you can turn that emotion into strength and into power and that’s what I’m doing, I’m putting that into training, I’m putting that into work that I have with the men and women at this team. If you think what you saw at the end of last year was my best, wait until you see this year,” summed up Hamilton.
Who are we to doubt that, with new rules there to even up the playing field, there may some surprises early on but there is no doubt whatsoever that the two chief protagonists from 2021 will be there fighting from lights out in Bahrain to the drop of the chequered in Abu Dhabi.
Here’s Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff on all FIA, Abu Dhabi
Here’s shakedown of Mercedes
Here’s launch of Mercedes
Here’s how the FIA structure going forward
Here’s Nicholas Latifi on aftermath of Abu Dhabi