Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has reacted to Sir Lewis Hamilton’s recent Instagram post, following his silence on social media for several weeks after the 2021 season finale.
Hamilton was cruelly denied his eighth world championship in controversial fashion when race director Michael Masi allowed a limited number of lapped runners to pass the Safety Car ahead of the final lap of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
This allowed Max Verstappen, who had pitted for fresh tyres, to pass the 37-year-old on the final lap and snatch his maiden championship.
Hamilton congratulated his rival immediately after the contentious race, but said to 2009 world champion Jenson Button: “We’ll see about next year,” prompting suggestions that his retirement was pending.
Ex-F1 driver Perry McCarthy told Formula1News.co.uk that such an event was “possible,” while former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was convinced that his compatriot was headed for the exit.
This was further fuelled by the seven-time world champion’s absence from social media for almost two months, but he tweeted earlier in February: “I’ve been gone. Now I’m back,” with a picture of him smiling.
He has also posted images of some of the activities he has been getting up to in his self-exile from the outer world, and his Mercedes team have publicly welcomed him back.
Domenicali is encouraged by the Mercedes driver’s recent activity.
“From what I see in the picture he has posted, he seems to be totally focused on this year’s challenge that, sporting-wise, will be very interesting,” said the Italian, as quoted by Formula 1.com.
F1’s technical regulations have changed radically this year in an aerodynamic swing led by the return of ground effect.
The former Ferrari team principal also expressed his anticipation of how the new cars will perform, and reckons that 2022 will be just as thrilling as last season,
“We are all looking forward to seeing how the new cars behave and [I am] sure this will be as exciting as the last one,” Doemnicali added.
Hamilton will be partnered this season by George Russell, who has signed from Williams to replace Valtteri Bottas.
The Silver Arrows will reveal this year’s challenger on 18 February at their factory in Brackley.