Denied pole position by Verstappen on Saturday, Hamilton took his revenge come race day with an excellent get-away to snatch back the race lead, despite intense pressure from both Red Bulls.
With his unusual clutch paddle that is unique in both design and usage, Lewis Hamilton reacted a few milliseconds before Max Verstappen and was already alongside the latter as they reached the pit exit.
The Red Bulls have famously been tricky to get off the line, with both Verstappen and Perez struggling at race starts on multiple occasions. Desperate to maintain his position after a bad start, Verstappen initiated a squeeze maneuver on Hamilton to no avail, before running wide into turn 1.
Verstappen’s teammate Perez was now also alongside the pair, but on the inside of turn 1, Hamilton used his Mercedes’ better traction to blast past Perez and solidify his lead.
Meanwhile, Perez cut short his chase of Hamilton to crucially let his team-mate pass. The race was on, and the championship rivals were set for another memorable battle in their championship fight.
With the help of an aggressive strategy from Red Bull, combined with some excellent defensive driving, Verstappen managed to overhaul Hamilton and Mercedes over the next 54 laps to snatch back the race lead and win to further extend his championship advantage.
Lewis Hamilton keeps F1 world guessing his next move
Lewis Hamilton lost his bid for a record-breaking eighth world title on the very last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a controversial safety car restart. After being overtaken by Max Verstappen, a frustrated Hamilton claimed the race was being “manipulated” on his team radio.
Hamilton handled his disappointment at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with grace and sportsmanship in the immediate aftermath. At the media pen after the checkered flag, the seven-time world champion took the time to congratulate newly-crowned F1 world champion Verstappen and the Red Bull team.
Soon after the season’s conclusion, however, Hamilton shunned social media and has made very few public appearances. The Briton was missing at Pirelli’s 18-inch tire test in Abu Dhabi, as well as from the FIA prize-giving ceremony — the latter was alongside Mercedes and in protest against the FIA.
Apart from his appearances at the Windsor castle and Mercedes’s factory at Brackley – to receive his knighthood and to celebrate the team’s eighth consecutive world championship respectively, Lewis Hamilton has been absent from the public sphere.
Meanwhile, the F1 world is up in a frenzy speculating about Hamilton’s future in the sport. After Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff suggested during an interview that the Briton might consider leaving for good, speculation about Hamilton’s retirement has been mounting.
Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has claimed that Lewis Hamilton will not return to the sport, saying that the latter was too “disappointed” in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton himself, however, is yet to speak up about his future in the sport.