Lewis Hamilton says with Formula 1 seasons stretching longer across a year the shorter winter breaks are “more and more important” for him in terms of recovery and preparing for a full campaign next year.

The recently-crowned fifth-time F1 world champion wrapped up his Mercedes driving commitments last weekend by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with teammate Valtteri Bottas taking on the driving responsibilities for the two-day post-season Pirelli tyre test at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Driver Ratings - Abu Dhabi GP

Hamilton says he still has a handful of sponsor and Mercedes days to complete before he can completely switch off from a gruelling F1 campaign.

It leaves the British driver, and the rest of the F1 paddock, around just under 12 weeks until the 2019 F1 season preparations begin with team launches and pre-season testing in Spain.

With the off-season shrinking by a further week next year, as the Abu Dhabi GP is held on the first weekend of December in 2019, Hamilton sees the shorter winters are becoming even more important to use correctly.

“The seasons are getting longer and longer, so the importance of that period is getting more and more important,” Hamilton said. “But, I’m going to stay in free practice for a little bit longer. Works best for me.

“I haven’t made any plans yet – but looking forwards to family time. I unfortunately still have a lot of work to do until mid-December sometime – but excited for the winter, winter break and just getting time to spend with my sister and the kids and my Mum and my Dad. The whole switch-off thing.”

With 2019 preparations already underway for Hamilton and Mercedes, the British driver’s F1 commitments will ramp up by mid-February when the team traditionally launches its new car.

Pre-season testing begins at Circuit de Catalunya, venue for the Spanish Grand Prix, between February 18-21 with the second test taking place at the same circuit on February 26-March 1.

The 2019 F1 season gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix on March 17.