Lewis Hamilton has reflected on the “disbelief” he felt after being “cheated” out of the 2021 Formula One title.
Hamilton looked set to clinch an eighth world title in Abu Dhabi before a controversial decision from race director Michael Masi gave Max Verstappen the chance to pass on the final lap.
Masi has since left the role and his decision was called a "human error" by the FIA, F1’s governing body.
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Looking back on the final moments of the season-defining race, Hamilton told Vanity Fair: “You see things start to unfold and my worst fears came alive. I was like, there’s no way they’re going to cheat me out of this. There’s no way. That won’t happen. Surely not.
“I don’t know if I can really put into words the feeling that I had. I do remember just sitting there just in disbelief. And realising I’ve got to undo my belts, I’ve got to get out of there, I’ve got to climb out of this thing, I’ve got to find the strength. I had no strength. And it was one of the toughest moments, I would say, that I’ve had in a long, long time.”
Put to him that he must have felt cheated, Hamilton added: “I knew what had happened. I knew what decisions had been made and why. Yes, I knew that something wasn’t right.”
Such was the impact of the controversial decision that there was speculation over the winter that Hamilton might step away from F1.
“I, for sure, considered whether I wanted to continue,” he admits.
However, he has returned this season with Mercedes and now has no plans to step away from the sport.
“I’ll be lying if I said that I hadn’t thought about extending. I’m still on the mission, I’m still loving driving, I’m still being challenged by it. So I don’t really feel like I have to give it up anytime soon.”
After a challenging start to the season, Mercedes have improved and have seemingly closed the gap on front-runners Red Bull and Ferrari.
Hamilton has finished second at the last two races.
But he has also seemingly flirted close to a ban due to rules banning jewellery from the cockpit. Hamilton usually wears earrings and a nose stud, and has no plans to alter his style after a temporary exemption ends.
“Since I was a kid—rules. I’ve never loved being told what to do. People love to have power. And to enforce power.”
Asked he feels as though the rule has been particularly directed towards him, he added: “I mean, yeah. Because I’m the only one that has jewellery on, really.”
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