Lewis Hamilton says he will not allow himself to be pushed around on track this season in his quest to regain the Drivers’ title.
The seven-time former World Champion relinquished the crown in controversial circumstances to Max Verstappen, who was generally the aggressor when the duo found themselves battling during races.
Verstappen used strong-arm tactics to get ahead of Hamilton in a selection of first-corner incidents, while his refusal to yield earned him penalties when the Mercedes and Red Bull clashed at Monza and in Jeddah.
But at Silverstone it was Hamilton who was found guilty of being over-zealous in an incident where Verstappen crashed out and had to be taken to hospital for checks, the Briton overcoming a 10-second penalty to win his home grand prix.
That occasion was in the minority, however, compared to when Verstappen was getting his elbows out – but it will be different this year, assures the Mercedes racer.
For this year's helmet I wanted to show love to my beginnings. As much as I love purple and black, yellow is my history. I’m going into this season with the same dedication, drive, and passion I had way back in my karting days 💛 pic.twitter.com/PMIP5SgF0Q
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) March 18, 2022
“I will be a more aggressive driver this year,” said Hamilton during a press conference at the start of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. “You’ll see.”
But, Hamilton insisted, that is not driven by a thirst for revenge at feeling he had been denied a record-breaking eighth title by the decisions ousted race director Michael Masi had made in the closing stages of the concluding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 37-year-old Briton, who had won the three races before Abu Dhabi to draw level on points with Verstappen, said that attitude was “not my psyche”.
He added: “That’s not how I’m approaching this season. I’m just approaching the season trying to be the best I can be.
“I want to see if there’s a way I can somehow raise my game – drive at least how I was at the end of last season.
“And just that collaboration with the team, there will be lots and lots of hurdles along the way. But I love that. I don’t have that [revenge] viewpoint.
“I think I’ll just try to be the best driver I can be this year. I think there is still more I can do, both in and out of the car.
“We still have a lot of work to do on the diversity front here as a sport, so I’ll continue to fight for that too.”
Hamilton has expressed concerns about Mercedes’ competitiveness with the all-new cars in the early part of this season and in the opening one-hour practice session in Bahrain, he ended up seventh in the standings, three-quarters of a second behind pace-setter Pierre Gasly.
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