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.”
New car, new teammate, new year, new drive. @MercedesAMGF1 pic.twitter.com/A72n5VhcgO
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) February 19, 2022
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.”
My brother has been with me every step of the way. Few people have believed in me more than Nicolas. I’m so grateful for the blessing he is in my life and so happy to share this moment with him. Our smiles 🤣 pic.twitter.com/r1eP4j8wVn
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) February 20, 2022
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.”