Lewis Hamilton has confirmed he is racing in 2022 after a “difficult time” as Mercedes revealed the new-look car they hope will leave the controversy of Abu Dhabi behind and continue a record-breaking F1 title streak.
Launching their W13 a day after the FIA made the first changes from their inquiry into last season’s Abu Dhabi decider with Michael Masi removed as race director, Mercedes have pledged to “move on” from the dramatic events that saw Hamilton cruelly beaten by Max Verstappen to the championship.
Hamilton was alongside his new British team-mate Russell, 13 years his junior, as Mercedes unveiled their new car and new colours.
Returning to tradition after two years in a black livery, the Silver Arrows are back in silver and teal with a dash of red for 2022, with the revolutionary new rules giving them a fresh challenge in their bid to continue their unprecedented streak of eight constructors’ titles.
Hamilton’s presence at the launch marked his first media interview since leaving the paddock dejected on December 12, and amid a period of silence there were fears a “disillusioned” seven-time world champion would quit the sport.
“I never ever said I was going to stop,” insisted Hamilton on Friday. “I love doing what I do and it is such a privilege working with this large group of people. There’s no feeling quite like it.
“It was obviously a difficult time for me. It was when I needed to take a step back, focus on being present, so I had my family all around me and creating great moments.
“It eventually got to the point where I would be attacking again coming into another season. It is exciting seeing George coming in and seeing his energy.”
Hamilton, who with Russell forms the first British F1 driver line-up since him and Jenson Button at McLaren 10 years ago, said Mercedes have the “ultimate goal of the world championship, raising the bar and doing something no one has ever done before.”
Their goal remains unchanged from a 2014-21 hybrid era they dominated, although the completely new rules aimed at improving wheel-to-wheel overtaking and competitiveness through the field presents a challenge.
“The hopes are we have a competitive car,” explained Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “It’s not a given with the new regulations. We say we want to win another title, but we don’t even know if we’re going to be in the hunt for a new title.
“What I know with this team is that we’ve always been able, even when circumstances are difficult like the beginning of last season, to dig ourselves out of disadvantageous situations.”
More to follow.