Hamilton lost the 2021 title to Max Verstappen in the most controversial of circumstances with race director Michael Masi failing to follow the sporting regulations with at the Safety Car.

This gave Verstappen a free run at Hamilton, overtaking the seven-time champion on the final lap to win his first title.

The race led to widespread controversy for many months, leading to Masi’s eventual sacking ahead of the 2022 season.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hamilton spoke about Abu Dhabi and what went through his mind as he sat in his Mercedes cockpit after the chequered flag.

“You see things start to unfold,” Hamilton said. “and my worst fears came alive. 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.”

“I don’t know if I can really put into words the feeling that I had,” he replies. “I do remember just sitting there just in disbelief. And realizing I’ve got to undo my belts, I’ve got to get out of there, I’ve got to climb out of this thing, I’ve got to find the strength. I had no strength. And it was one of the toughest 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 that something wasn’t right.”

Hamilton’s sportsmanship afterwards was admirable, while there were also touching scenes with his father Anthony, comforting him.

Reflecting on this moment with his father in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton said: “He embraced me, and I think he was like, ‘I want you to know how proud I am of you.’ Having your father embrace you in that way is one of the most profound things I’ve ever…” Hamilton added.

“Especially as you’ve grown up not many times having that.”