Lewis Hamilton declares himself ready to fight for 2022 F1 title after ‘difficult’ off-season

 (AP)
(AP)

Lewis Hamilton has officially declared himself back as Mercedes unveiled its challenger for the 2022 Formula 1 season at Silverstone on Friday morning.

There had been some doubts over the seven-time world champion’s future in the wake of the controversial end to last season’s finale, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But the 37-year-old said that, despite a difficult off-season, he was primed for a stab at an outright record eighth drivers’ title.

“I never said I was going to stop,” he said concerning the ongoing question marks about his future leading up to next month’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. “I love doing what I do and it is such a privilege working with this large group of people.

“It was a difficult time for me and a time where I needed to take a step back.

“Eventually I got to a point where I decided I’d be attacking again, coming to another season working with Toto [Wolff] and George[ Russell]. I think it’s going to be an exciting season.”

Mercedes’ launch came the morning after the FIA announced the sacking of its race director Michael Masi, whose controversial call in Abu Dhabi effectively paved the way for Max Verstappen to pass race leader Hamilton to win the race and, with it, an inaugural title.

New FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem announced Masi would be replaced by two men alternating the role: Eduardo Defreitas and Niels Wittich, with the addition of a remote race control which was likened to VAR in football.

Following the decision to axe Masi, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “I think it’s very encouraging to see that action has been taken.

“There’s a much more robust structure now for the racing director. The FIA said there will be a virtual race control room, state-of-the-art technology and new guys for the Barcelona test. For us, the right steps.”