Lewis Hamilton ‘freshest’ he’s ever been during Barcelona testing for 2022 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton F1 testing
Sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton felt re-energized during testing for the new Formula One season after the disappointment of losing the F1 title to Max Verstappen on the last lap of the last race of the 2021 season.

Hamilton, Verstappen and the rest of the F1 drivers began preseason testing in Barcelona on Wednesday, getting their first feel for the revamped F1 cars following major regulation changes to try to make the series more competitive.

Hamilton was fifth-fastest with Mercedes on an opening day led by Lando Norris of McLaren. Verstappen was ninth-fastest with Red Bull.

“I feel the freshest that I ever have,” Hamilton said. “Of course, there are so many different ways you can re-focus and get re-centered, and I would say this (break) was one of the best I’ve ever experienced.”

He said he regrouped by spending time with his loved ones in what he called “the best period of time I’ve actually ever had with my family.”

“It was definitely more about being present and in the moment, and creating memories,” Hamilton, 37, said. “I know sometimes in life, we get so focused and stuck into certain things like work that we forget to do those things. So it was a great time, just refreshing with the family.”

The seven-time world champion is entering his 16th season in F1. He was one lap away from breaking a tie with Michael Schumacher for most titles at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but was overtaken by Verstappen on fresher tires in a controversial finish that resulted in Michael Masi’s removal as race director.

Hamilton skipped the mandatory postrace news conference and also didn’t go to the season-ending gala. He had made just one public appearance a few days after the race when receiving his knighthood at Windsor Castle.

Back in the paddock in Barcelona on Wednesday, Hamilton said he was fully motivated again.

“This morning, arriving and looking down the pit lane and seeing all the different cars, I think it’s one of the most exciting and interesting seasons that I’ve ever embarked upon,” he said. “It will be interesting to see where everyone comes out and where we stand in the first race.”

F1 has undergone one of its most significant regulations chances this season to try to improve racing. New aerodynamic and tire requirements are in place to hopefully allow drivers to race closer together and increase the number of overtakes.

“I’ve seen the designs of our car over several months, but now to see everyone’s car out there, you’re trying to get a close eye to see what is different, if there is anything,” Hamilton said. “So I think it’s the most exciting (year), and again, you have absolutely no idea where you stand.”

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