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Lewis Hamilton clears Abu Dhabi 2021 after record Silverstone win

Lewis Hamilton clears Abu Dhabi 2021 after record Silverstone win
Lewis Hamilton clears Abu Dhabi 2021 after record Silverstone win

Lewis Hamilton won his first race since that title fight, but he cannot yet say whether victory at Sunday’s British GP will put an end to his suffering and herald the final stage in his recovery process.

In 2021, Hamilton went wheel-to-wheel with Max Verstappen for the world title. The Mercedes driver won the penultimate race of the championship and was therefore equal on points.

Will Lewis Hamilton’s win at Silverstone put the ghosts of Abu Dhabi to rest?

Hamilton had no idea this would be his last win for 945 days.

Losing the world title to Verstappen a race later, at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, was a “painful” experience for Hamilton, especially given the circumstances that had defined much of the race, before then FIA race director Michael Masi made a controversial decision.

Both Hamilton and his team boss Toto Wolff have spoken of the scars Abu Dhabi has been left with from the emotional aftermath of coming so close to winning a record-breaking eighth world title only to lose it again.

But whether Sunday’s British Grand Prix will mark the start of the next stage in the healing process, allowing Hamilton to move on, the Briton cannot say.

He thought he was over it in 2022, but when he appeared on the grid, that turned out not to be the case.

“I think only time will tell,” he said of the impact of Sunday’s victory at the end of Abu Dhabi 2021. “What I can say is that I am not giving up.

“I feel like I’m making the right decisions in my life, in how I prepare and how I manage my time, the decision I made for next year for example, the commitment I still have to this team and the love I still have for this team and the love I still have for my job.

“I really, really love this job. And there will never be anything that comes close. And it’s something I’m incredibly grateful for, to be among these 20 drivers in this great sport that’s going through such a momentous time.

“I really hope… Honestly, when I came back in 2022, I thought I was over it. And I know I wasn’t and it definitely took a long time to heal those kinds of feelings.

“And that’s very natural for anyone who has that experience. And I just kept trying to work on myself and find that inner peace day by day.”

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Lewis Hamilton feared his 104th victory ‘would never happen’

With his victory at the British Grand Prix, Hamilton not only set a new record for the most wins at a single circuit with his nine victories at Silverstone, but it was also his 150th podium finish as a Mercedes driver.

He also extended his record for most F1 Grands Prix victories to 104, more than two and a half years after achieving his 103rd.

“I guess I would say that given the adversity that we’ve gone through as a team, and that I’ve felt personally, that I’ve experienced those challenges, the constant challenge that we all have to get out of bed every day and do our best,” he said.

“There are so many times when you feel like your best shot just isn’t good enough. And the disappointment that you can feel sometimes, you know, and we live in a time where mental health is such a serious issue.

“I’m not going to lie, I’ve been there. And there’s definitely been times where you know, the thought that this was it, that this would never happen again.

“So to have this feeling over the border, I think, honestly, I’ve never cried after a win. It just came out of me. And it’s a really, really great feeling. I’m very, very grateful for it.”

He shared that emotional moment with his parents; both his father and mother were at the track to cheer him on.

“My parents have been to a race here and there,” he said. “My mom was there when we won a championship. My dad was there when we won a championship. It was always at a different point in my life.

“The first World Championship was incredible, but it was really hard to process it all at the age I was at. I think this weekend, I just think in life, you know, your parents are getting older, we travel so much. Time with family is a constant challenge.

“My niece and nephew are growing up and growing out of their cuteness. But I had them here this weekend and I think they all… We all try to be there for each other, even from a distance. But to have them there and…

“I mean, I know I’ve always had their support, but to see them there and share this experience, they wanted to be at my last race, the last British Grand Prix with this team that has been so incredible to us.

“I mean, Mercedes has obviously supported me since I was 13. So having them there and being able to share it with them was definitely the most important thing.”

Read more: ‘Whisper it, Mercedes is back’ – Driver brings team ‘into conversation’ after ‘brilliant week’