Lewis Hamilton has denied that his “unfinished business” in F1 is about getting revenge for Abu Dhabi 2021, insisting he simply wants to take Mercedes back to the top.
After months of speculation, Hamilton confirmed on Thursday that he will remain with Mercedes until the end of the 2025 season having signed an extension to his contract.
The most successful driver in F1 history, Hamilton was denied a recording-breaking eighth World Championship in highly controversial circumstances at the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi, where the FIA race director’s failure to implement the Safety Car rules correctly resulted in the Mercedes driver being overtaken by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in a final-lap shootout.
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton not eyeing revenge for Abu Dhabi 2021
Hamilton remains without a win since, while Verstappen has won 36 of the last 57 grands prix and is on course to be scoop a third successive title in the coming weeks.
A 10th straight victory at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix would see Verstappen take the record for the most consecutive wins by a single driver.
Hamilton, who claimed six of his seven titles in Mercedes colours between 2014 and 2020, says revenge for Abu Dhabi 2021 did not factor into his thinking when choosing to commit his future to the team.
Asked at Monza what exactly he meant when he claimed to have unfinished business in F1, he told media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher: “We’re trying to win more World Championships and I think the unfinished business is getting us to the back to the top, it’s getting back and fighting for World Championships.
“We’ve been the most successful team in history and had the most successful run in the past 10 years or whatever but it’s been a challenge this past year so I think it’s just getting us back to where we belong and where we operate on all those cylinders which you’re seeing Red Bull do.
“I’m not really a revenge person. It’s not 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 and be more precise and be better moving forwards. And I truly believe that with this team, we can win more World Championships and watch races together so that’s where all my energy is going.
“The goal is simple. 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 they have and the team that they have and pull everyone together – and having everyone firing on all cylinders is not easy in a large team, so that takes consistent work.
“And same from a driver’s perspective, just making sure you’re performing every weekend. Even though I’ve been driving and racing all these years, I still feel like I can improve each weekend. And 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.”
Mercedes have struggled to adapt to the ground effect rules introduced in 2022, with Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell securing the team’s only victory of last season in Brazil. The Silver Arrows were then forced to abandon their 2023 car concept after a poor start to the season, with only marginal improvement in performance since revised W14 car arrived in Monaco at the end of May.
Asked if there were any doubts in his mind about staying with Mercedes, Hamilton reiterated his faith that the team will return to regular winning ways in due course.
“I definitely wanted to continue.,” he said.
“When you have ups and downs – like last year was a difficult year – I’m pretty sure everyone was questioning whether they wanted to continue, because it’s just tough at the top and it’s such a tough sport.
“But that feeling, that thought, quickly goes away and you put your work, you put your mind and your energy into being the best you can be and dealing with the situations that you’re faced with. And so I’m really proud of what we achieved last year to get through it.
“And then while we started on the wrong foot this year to have had 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.
“It’s what you see. It’s not necessarily what someone says, it’s the work that you’re doing, it’s the meetings we’ve been having with all the engineers, with James Allison and the whole group back at the factory just focused on [improving] – the heads of all the departments coming together and talking and just really engaging better than ever before about where we are, the mistakes we’ve made, why we’ve made those decisions and why we won’t make them again and where we’re going.
“And just all having that confidence in each other that we are the best at what we do and when we come together. Given time, we will get to where we need to be.”
Hamilton has been powered by Mercedes engines for all of his 323 F1 appearances to date, with the British driver’s relationship with the German manufacturer stretching back to his teenage years.
With his new contract set to take him to the brink of his 41st birthday, Hamilton says he is taking inspiration from NFL star Tom Brady and Fernando Alonso, who has claimed seven podium finishes for Aston Martin this season at the age of 42, when it comes to career longevity.
He said: “You’re all stuck with me for a little bit longer! Honestly, I couldn’t be happier to be extending with this team.
“We’ve had such an incredible journey together. Mercedes have supported me since I was 13, so such a long trip. And we still have unfinished business. So, we are in this together, we’ve got a lot of work to do to get ourselves back to the front, but there’s no place I’d rather be
“I think I look at people like Tom Brady, who’s such an incredible athlete and has shown what can be done today, so he’s the real role model, in that respect, I think for all athletes to be able to look at.
“I’m really, really fortunate that I’ve been able to speak to him to understand as well what he’s done, what he does consistently to keep himself in shape and he’s expressed it in the media.
“Of course it’s great seeing Fernando. He was here way before I was and obviously took that retirement and came back and is doing an amazing job.
“It just shows that your talent never really leaves you. As long as you have that passion and that commitment you can continue.”