Lewis Hamilton ends social media silence since 2021 season finale, posts ‘I’m back!’

Lewis Hamilton silence
Cristiano Barni ATPImages/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton returned to social media Saturday following a lengthy silence that dates to last season’s controversial Formula 1 finale.

Hamilton had dropped out of public sight after he was denied a record eighth championship in the December finale in Abu Dhabi. He re-emerged Saturday with a post that showed the seven-time champion smiling from what appears to the Grand Canyon.

“I’ve been gone. Now I’m back!” Hamilton posted.

Hamilton did one brief postrace interview following his Dec. 12 loss to Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. He skipped the mandatory news conference, skipped the gala in Paris, and his last public appearance was three days after the Abu Dhabi race when Hamilton received his knighthood at Windsor Castle.

Hamilton declined to speak to the media at Windsor Castle and his last social media post had been the night before the season finale.

Speculation has swirled that Hamilton, who turned 37 last month, will retire from F1 over his disgust on how the championship was decided. Hamilton and his Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, both skipped the mandatory season-ending awards ceremony held four days after the finale.

Hamilton’s failure to attend the gala is under investigation by the FIA, which elected new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem the morning after the gala. Sulayem has also promised a mid-February report on the results of the FIA’s extensive review of the Abu Dhabi finale.

Hamilton was within minutes of breaking Michael Schumacher’s record with an eighth title until a late caution changed the entire closing sequence. Verstappen beat Hamilton in a one-lap shootout that the governing body is still reviewing.

Hamilton had a nearly 12-second lead with Verstappen in second when the crash brought out the yellow flag with five laps remaining. Verstappen pitted for fresh tires while Hamilton stayed on track. The race director initially said lapped drivers could not pass the safety car, then reversed the call in a decision that returned Verstappen to second when the race resumed with a lap remaining.

Verstappen then passed Hamilton to win his first world championship.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III