Formula 1 Racing

Does Hamilton’s win avenge the ghosts from Abu Dhabi 2021?

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

The tears were as unexpected as the victory. Unprecedented, they had come from somewhere deep inside. A mixture of joy and relief – in a way they seemed cathartic.

An outpouring of emotion into his crash helmet that had been bottled up since he had been denied of a record eighth world title in such controversial circumstances at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The moving sight and sound of Lewis Hamilton ending his winless drought, which started way back in December 2021 when he lost his title to Max Verstappen, is assured to become one of Formula 1’s iconic moments and played out in video montages for the rest of time.

Since his last victory, which came in the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on 5 December 2021, Hamilton has been plunged into the depths of self-discovery and was left repeatedly questioning his F1 future.

Who could blame him for losing his faith in the series and those who preside over the races? In the weeks after the defeat at the Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton did plenty of soul-searching.

He vanished from our mobile and TV screens and kept a low profile before a somewhat cryptic post on his social media channels on 5 February 2022. It was an image of himself standing in front of a vast canyon with the words “I’ve been gone. Now I’m back!”
Now, he is indeed back and standing on the top step of the podium. But has he recovered from seeing a title slip through his grasp in such circumstances?

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

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The mental torment of seeing Verstappen inherit his title has been compounded by Mercedes being plagued by problems with its machinery. Hamilton had been hamstrung. Understandably, he’d grown frustrated and sought a new challenge for 2025 and will join Ferrari.

Question marks followed about whether he could still cut it at the top. Now 39, it was easy for people to suggest he had slowed down and lost his edge.

But Hamilton had never given up hope. He may have decided to swap teams but he was determined that his Mercedes career would finish with a bang. A final hurrah. This was it. But was it enough to banish the hurt from Abu Dhabi 2021?

Asked by Autosport if those tears were all part of the healing process, Hamilton said: “I think only time will tell. What I can say is that I’m not giving up. I feel like I’m making the right decisions with my life, with how I prepare and how I manage my time.

“The decision I’ve…

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