Hamilton talks about his feelings after the Abu Dhabi GP 2021. The seven time champion has revealed his full story about the final lap of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year, the race that saw him miss out on his eighth F1 world championship title. He admits, he was close to retiring.
Max Verstappen won his first world championship after overtaking rival Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the last Grand Prix of the Formula One season. The Red Bull driver was helped by the intervention of a safety car with five laps to go following the accident of Williams driver Nicholas Latifi. FIA race director Michael Masi only allowed five cars [those between Hamilton and Verstappen] to pass the safety car before restarting the race for a single lap to fulfill the wishes of a prior agreement between teams to make sure the race ended on a green flag.
Lewis Hamilton had not previously spoken publicly about the events in detail, but the man who seemed to have been promised an eighth world title finally did so in the columns of Vanity Fair.
“You see things start to unfold,” he said, recalling the final moments of the race, “and my worst fears came true. I was thinking, there’s no way they’re doing this to me. There’s no way. It’s not going to happen. Definitely not.”
“I don’t know if I can really put into words the feeling I had,” he indicates.
“I was like, there’s no way they’re going to cheat me out of this. There’s no way. That won’t happen. Surely not.”
Lewis Hamilton is ready to talk about Abu Dhabi. https://t.co/Te4XeAe2wR
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) August 8, 2022
“I just remember sitting there in disbelief. And realising I have to unbuckle my seatbelt, I have to get out of there, I have to get out of the car, I have to find the strength. I had no strength. And that was one of the hardest moments, I would say, that I’ve had in a long, long time.”
“I knew what had happened. I knew what decisions had been made and why. Yes, I knew something was wrong.”
The seven-time world champion didn’t know it, but his father was present in Abu Dhabi; he explains his reaction at the finish of the race: “He hugged me, and I think he said, ‘I want you to know how proud I am of you.’ To have your father hug you like that is one of the most profound things I’ve ever felt… Especially when it didn’t happen often when you were a kid.”
The story also mentions conversations with Hamilton’s friend, businesswoman Mellody Hobson after the Grand Prix, who had also attended the race: “He was really stunned,” she recalls.
“Dazed. Like a shock. He kept asking the same question: ‘What happened?’
“I grabbed him by both shoulders and said, ‘You did everything right.’ I kept telling him that. I said, ‘It wasn’t you. You did everything right. And he literally said four or five times, ‘What happened?”
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Lewis Hamilton also confided that he found it difficult to talk about the race later: “Look, I was going through all sorts of emotions so nobody could tell me anything,” he recalled. “It didn’t matter who. It didn’t matter what was said. When you feel a certain way, sometimes it’s hard to communicate.”
The British driver remained publicly silent for several weeks after Abu Dhabi, and there was much speculation that he was done with racing – that he would distance himself from the F1 world. “I did of course ask myself if I wanted to continue,” he confirms feelings of retirement.