Does Hamilton’s win avenge the ghosts from Abu Dhabi 2021?

The tears were as unexpected as the victory. Unprecedented, they had come from somewhere deep inside. A mixture of joy and relief – in a way they seemed cathartic.

An outpouring of emotion into his crash helmet that had been bottled up since he had been denied of a record eighth world title in such controversial circumstances at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The moving sight and sound of Lewis Hamilton ending his winless drought, which started way back in December 2021 when he lost his title to Max Verstappen, is assured to become one of Formula 1’s iconic moments and played out in video montages for the rest of time.

Since his last victory, which came in the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on 5 December 2021, Hamilton has been plunged into the depths of self-discovery and was left repeatedly questioning his F1 future.

Who could blame him for losing his faith in the series and those who preside over the races? In the weeks after the defeat at the Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton did plenty of soul-searching.

He vanished from our mobile and TV screens and kept a low profile before a somewhat cryptic post on his social media channels on 5 February 2022. It was an image of himself standing in front of a vast canyon with the words “I’ve been gone. Now I’m back!”
Now, he is indeed back and standing on the top step of the podium. But has he recovered from seeing a title slip through his grasp in such circumstances?

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The mental torment of seeing Verstappen inherit his title has been compounded by Mercedes being plagued by problems with its machinery. Hamilton had been hamstrung. Understandably, he’d grown frustrated and sought a new challenge for 2025 and will join Ferrari.

Question marks followed about whether he could still cut it at the top. Now 39, it was easy for people to suggest he had slowed down and lost his edge.

But Hamilton had never given up hope. He may have decided to swap teams but he was determined that his Mercedes career would finish with a bang. A final hurrah. This was it. But was it enough to banish the hurt from Abu Dhabi 2021?

Asked by Autosport if those tears were all part of the healing process, Hamilton said: “I think only time will tell. What I can say is that I’m not giving up. I feel like I’m making the right decisions with my life, with how I prepare and how I manage my time.

“The decision I’ve taken, for example, for next year, the commitment and love I still have to this team and the love that I still have for my job. I really, really love this job. There’s never going to be anything that comes close to it. It’s something I’m incredibly grateful for, to be in amongst these 20 drivers within this great sport that’s having such a momentous time.

“Honestly, when I came back in 2022, I thought that I was over it. And I know I wasn’t and it’s taken a long time for sure to heal that kind of feeling. And that’s only natural for anyone that has that experience. I’ve just been continuing to try and work on myself and find that inner peace day by day.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, 1st position, celebrates in Parc Ferme with his father Anthony Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, 1st position, celebrates in Parc Ferme with his father Anthony Hamilton

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

On the lap back to the pits, his voice waived and cracked with emotion over the team’s radio. He was choking back the tears inside his crash helmet. Hamilton pulled up and climbed from his car and stood aloft holding a Union Jack flag above his head.

He was congratulated team-mate George Russell and then by Lando Norris, who finished third, before his father Anthony. The two held each other and shared an embrace – as they had done in Abu Dhabi.

It was also somewhat fitting that Apple were filming at Silverstone this week and ahead of the race, they released their first trailer for their movie, F1which will be in cinemas next summer. Hamilton is one of the film’s producers and this landmark victory in his home race was straight out of a Hollywood script.

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The win came at a time when the UK undergoes a political shift with a change at Downing Street, while the England team progressed into the semi-finals of the European Championship. Hamilton had watched the decisive penalty kicks on the big screen with his Mercedes team-mate George Russell. A day later, it was him earning the plaudits and adulation.

The victory was sweet and a fantastic way to sign off his time with Mercedes but the reality is the wounds will only be truly healed once he has that eighth world title he so covets. The one he is still feeling the effects of missing out on.

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