New F1 deal despite fresh ‘kick’ during 2021 title loss

But despite the lowest levels of controversy in Abu Dhabi last year, competitive struggles with Mercedes this season and renewed anxiety over Red Bull’s cost cap, the seven-times champion is clear his passion for racing has not abated.

In fact, although there are many good reasons to move away from Formula 1 and go on to pursue his interests elsewhere, the desire to stay with his current team is stronger than ever.

Because there is no “if” regarding the extension of the contract with mercedes Beyond the end of 2023. It is only a question of when.

“We’re going to do another deal,” he told select media, including, in an interview last weekend at the US Grand Prix.

I would say: “We will sit down and discuss it in the next couple of months.

“My goal is to continue to be with Mercedes. I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13. And it’s really my family: Mercedes-Benz is my family.

“They stuck with me through thick and thin. They stuck with me through being expelled at school. They stuck with me through everything that was going on during 2020. They stuck with me through my mistakes, and that bullshit was in the press; they stuck with me through the ups and downs.

“I really believe in this brand. I believe in the people that are inside the organization. And I want to be the best colleague I can be with, because I believe we can make the brand better, more accessible, even stronger than it is. I’m an integral part of that.”

Abu Dhabi fallout

While Hamilton is excited about his future with Mercedes in Formula 1, it’s fair to say that the turmoil he has endured since the controversial safety car restart in Abu Dhabi last year has not been easy to deal with.

Reflecting on his emotions in the aftermath of Abu Dhabi, where he has been cut off from the public spotlight, he has downplayed the talk that he has come close to turning away.

“[It] It feels like years ago,” he said. “I mean, it was definitely a soul breaker, or a soul crush, whatever you want to call it. Are you really not going back? I’m not one to give up like this, really.”

However, while resignation was never on the table, that does not mean that the pain of losing Abu Dhabi – and especially the circumstances of the FIA’s deviation from its own rules – was not deep.

“What was really breaking was just the belief that the sport would do something like that, and that would happen in the sport, because there are so many people to depend on,” he said.

You expect that the job will be done correctly. And the result of the world championship, which so many people have worked so hard for, is going to come out with a wrong decision from someone, you know?

Perhaps that was the only thing. It wasn’t due to my lack of love for working with my team or racing cars, it was literally…if you can lose a championship by making a mistake within an organization, that’s the thing I wondered about [about].

“But I did spend time with my family and that was really the best part of my recovery really. I just gave all my time to the kids, building the snowmen and being with them.

“It enabled me to really recover, to really recover. If I hadn’t been with them, I would have been stuck in a ditch.”

When asked if he felt that the decisions made by Formula One racing director Michael Massey in Abu Dhabi were deliberate to try to prevent him from winning an eighth title, Hamilton replied: “I don’t know. It feels a long time ago now.

“I think it was just a bad decision. I’m sure there’s egos involved and then there are also the moving parts. There are people talking in his ear. I don’t feel like he was particularly targeted.”

kick the cost cap

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photography: Sam Bloxham / motorsports pictures

While the Abu Dhabi controversy remains a sensitive topic within Formula One, and Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has admitted he still thinks about events every day, Hamilton has deliberately tried to draw a line under it.

“I’ve moved on from it. I refuse to live in the past. I actually experienced it in 2007 and as a young man it definitely kept me up at night and it was only negative.

“When you hold on to some negativity, when you hold on to hate or whatever, it holds you back.

And I move on, no matter what happened in the past. I chose not to dwell on it. There is nothing I can do about that time. I gave it all. Like, I gave it all, I sacrificed.

“But I’m willing to do it again. So that’s what I’m trying to work towards.”

But even Hamilton’s mentality in trying to erase Abu Dhabi’s negativity was recently tested when it emerged that Red Bull had been convicted by the FIA ​​of overspending during its 2021 campaign.

Having recently spoken publicly about the impact of Mercedes’ additional development money on the title battle, it’s clear that the ghosts of 2021 may not go away entirely.

“Certainly when I heard about going to Singapore about this cost [cap] Something that, for sure, evokes a bit of emotion,” he admits.

“Because you kind of buried it and it moved on and then it came back and then it became like another kick. And yes, I bought everything fresh again. So then, only then do we go back to the stage of suppressing it and move on.”

Where it goes now is now something for the FIA ​​to decide, but even if there is an unlikely scenario for Red Bull and Max Verstappen Hamilton says losing the championship points and the 2021 title over the cost cap issue, won’t satisfy him entirely.

“No,” he said, “because the damage has been done.” “I have a feeling for what we did as a team, how we achieved it and what we really achieved, and I can keep that to myself inside of me. We gave everything we had and did it the right way, and I’m proud of that.”

bouncing mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photography: Glenn Dunbar / motorsports pictures

What made the controversy in Abu Dhabi even more difficult to forget was that Hamilton and Mercedes simply could not dust themselves off and continue fighting for the next title.

The 2022 W13 proved to be a tough car. Mercedes has taken a long time to understand its problems, and against the backdrop of the cost cap era in Formula 1, the season’s recovery has proven to be too much.

It meant a campaign unlike any they’ve run together. And while there were positives to draw from the learning experience, it certainly wasn’t entirely fun to live in.

Hamilton says the realization in winter testing that things weren’t going well has been particularly difficult for everyone at Brackley.

“I wouldn’t say it was perfect for anyone,” he explained. “I’m sure Toto will tell you it wasn’t perfect for him.

“We sat down in February and we were all hopeful. They were all telling us we were going to have a huge fast car, and I’m sure everyone working on it was very happy with all the hard work they put in over the winter.

“It’s a stressful time for everyone on the team, and that’s when they’re going through tough times and crazy times. In a normal life, you’d expect that period to be a more relaxing time for people.

“But to find out that the damn thing isn’t working, and we have a rebound, that was hard for everyone. Everyone was really struggling, I think.

“And we’ve all gone through our own process of how to deal with it. But I think it’s amazing that it was a really powerful transformation time for all of us. We’ve gotten stronger and tighter as a team.”

But how difficult is it to mentally modify Hamilton himself?

“I think, from the initial stage, at first, I didn’t feel very difficult,” he ponders.

“But it definitely started to tire you out because you’re hoping you’ll be back out there and we haven’t done that for a while.

“Then, all of a sudden, we started in these races where we get to second place and then the next race [not]. The car is good for the weekend, then it’s one, two, three, four not so good, and then it pops up. And you do not know.

“You do all the work in the simulator and the simulator tells you something different than what you get on the track. Just a baffling year of feelings.

“You think the car looks pretty good this weekend or the engineers say ‘OK, we’ve got an upgrade that’s three tenths’ and you’ll get there a tenth slower.

And you ‘Oh shoot.’ I guess I just learned not to get my hopes up for anything. It’s better to be somewhat less than expected, and if it’s good it’s just as good, and if it’s better, it’s better. In terms of preparedness, I think we better “.

In the way he has responded to himself to the challenge of not being involved in the fight for victory every weekend, Hamilton believes he has handled things better than in the past when things didn’t go well.

“There is always value, and there are always things to gain from learning,” he says of the year. “It’s not like I’ve never had a season like this before. I’d like to say more… I definitely think I’ve been better than I’ve been at other times I’ve had years like this.

“Inside the team, within the messages, and within the people. I think I’ve been a better teammate to my teammates than ever before. And I think on the outside, in my outside life, I think I’ve had a better balance than I’ve had in the past. fine.”

Looking to the future

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, with Toto Wolff, Team Leader and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, with Toto Wolff, Team Leader and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photography: Steve Etherington / motorsports pictures

What was not in doubt was Hamilton’s desire to get back to the front. And that’s still on top of his to-do list instead of going after something else.

“In terms of my plans for the future…every year, at the end of the year, you sit there and look at whatever point of view you have, and you sit trying to figure it out,” he says.

“I don’t know what it’s like for you guys, but I’m trying to, like, analyze my year and analyze my next three to five year plan. It’s hard to do ten.”

“But where do I see myself? What are the things that I want to do? What are my goals? And things are being added. I add a lot of business things. I have a lot of business going on. I have a lot of things that are really successful and positive and have a lot of opportunities to succeed abroad.”

“But I want to keep racing. I love what I’m doing. I’ve been doing it for 30 years, and I don’t feel like I have to stop.

“I think at the moment I am still earning a reserve, I would say. I want to do better. But I plan to stay here longer.”

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