Lewis Hamilton has made it clear he has no hard feelings towards Max Verstappen after the events in Abu Dhabi.
An epic title battle between the pair ended in spectacular fashion at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Verstappen passing Hamilton on the final lap to snatch victory and the Drivers’ Championship.
Of course, there was a bit more to it, with Verstappen taking advantage of cooler tires he had taken under a final safety car period, to pass Hamilton.
Former race director Michael Masi had given Verstappen a clear shot at Hamilton on the restart, after clearing the lapped cars between them.
But Hamilton stressed that Verstappen seized an opportunity as any driver would, and looks forward to more battles to come.
RING ! 🔉 We can’t get enough of it 🤤
Check out this footage of Lewis Hamilton’s first time on track in the W13 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Oswm2Md27Y
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) February 19, 2022
“It has nothing to do with Max,” Hamilton told reporters at the Mercedes W13 launch event.
“Max did everything a driver would do if given the opportunity.
“He’s a great competitor and we’re going to go into another battle like we did last year and drive ourselves. Obviously we’re going to grow from our races and the experiences we’ve had the last year also this season.
“I have no problem with him”
The FIA has launched an investigation into the events in Abu Dhabi which has led to a restructuring of Race Control, with Masi leaving and moving to another position within the FIA, while the role of Race Director will be now shared and alternated between two people.
Those two people are World Endurance Championship race director Eduardo Freitas and former DTM race director Niels Wittich, with Herbie Blash, who was Charlie Whiting’s former assistant, ready to assist them.
There will also be remote virtual race control introduced, similar to the VAR system seen in football.
Hamilton welcomes the FIA’s words and actions, but has made it clear he blames no one, refusing to dwell on the past.
“I don’t have a grudge with anyone,” Hamilton said.
“I don’t think it’s ever a good thing to carry around with you, so I’m moving on.
“I don’t dwell on the past and like I said before, I feel fresh, I feel centered and fully focused.
“I have nothing holding me back this year. Not that I did it last year, but I won’t let that experience be part of it.