Hamilton sets sights on Verstappen but “it’s not about revenge" for Abu Dhabi 21

Lewis Hamilton has set his sights on “unfinished business” after signing a new contract with Mercedes, but insists it is “not about revenge” for the controversial conclusion to the 2021 F1 world championship. 
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F

Hamilton, who has agreed a two-year contract extension with Mercedes, had been on course to win a record-breaking eighth world title at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix before race director Michael Masi bent the rules to trigger a Safety Car restart on the final lap. 

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Masi’s decision - which ultimately led to his sacking following an FIA review - handed Max Verstappen a significant advantage over Hamilton. The Red Bull driver used fresh soft tyres to overtake Hamilton, on old hards, during a final-lap shootout that determined the destiny of the world championship. 

Seven-time world champion Hamilton has remained winless in F1 ever since and has been powerless to stop Verstappen’s domination, with the Dutchman romping towards a third consecutive title in 2023. 

“I’m not really a revenge person,” Hamilton said ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix when asked if he sees winning an eighth title as revenge for the manner in which he lost out in Abu Dhabi two years ago. 

“It’s not really about revenge. It’s not about redemption. That’s in the past. There’s nothing you can do about the past. But what we can do is work harder, be more precise, be better moving forward. 

“I truly believe that, with this team we can win more world championships and more races together. That’s where all my energy is going.” 

Race winner and World Champion Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium alongside second placed Lewis
Race winner and World Champion Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing…

Hamilton insisted there was “no” doubt that he wanted to continue with Mercedes and extend his tenure in F1. 

“I definitely wanted to continue,” he explained. “I think in life, when you have ups and downs, like last year was a difficult year. 

“I am pretty sure everyone was questioning whether they wanted to continue because it’s tough at the top. It’s such a tough sport but that thought quickly goes away and you put your mind and energy into the best you can be and deal with the situations that you’re faced with. 

“I am really proud of what we’ve achieved last year to get through it. Whilst we started on the wrong foot this year to have some really great results, we’re second in the constructors’ championship and the plan is to keep that and then close the gap to the guy ahead.”

He added: “We’re trying to win more world championships.

“The unfinished business is getting us back to the top, back to fighting for championships.

“We’ve been the most successful team in history, the most successful run in 10 years, but it’s been a challenge, the past year.

“It’s getting us back to where we belong, and where we operate in all those cylinders, which we’re seeing Red Bull are doing.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

While Hamilton said the goal for 2024 and 2025 is simple, he acknowledged that it won’t be easy to achieve. 

“The goal is simple,” he said. “Setting the target is simple, achieving that target is not. But it’s going to take all of us pulling together. 

“I think every team here and every driver is working so hard to get on top of the aero package that they have and the team they have, and pull everyone together. 

“Having everyone firing on all cylinders is not easy in a large team and so that takes consistent work. Same from a driver’s perspective. Just making sure you’re performing every weekend. 

“I still, even though I have been driving and racing all these years, I feel like I can improve each weekend. I think that’s what I love about this sport. 

“You’re never going to reach perfection but the pursuit of perfection is one of the most exciting things about what we do.”

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