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Lewis Hamilton reveals “spiritual” preparations for F1 opener in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton went away from last season’s controversial title decider at Abu Dhabi to recover but is now ready to come back firing in the 2022 F1 season, which starts in Bahrain this weekend

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Lewis Hamilton says he is “ready to give it everything” after recovering “physically” and “spiritually” from the Abu Dhabi controversy.

The seven-times world champion is in Bahrain to begin his challenge for a record-breaking eighth title. But for a while, there were serious doubts over whether he would continue in the sport after being robbed of glory in the final race of last season.

Yet on the eve of the championship opener, Hamilton repeated his determination to be even stronger after the crushing disappointment of Abu Dhabi. “So much has gone into getting back and being here both physically and spiritually,” he posted on social media. “Me and the team put in a lot of hard work and long hours and we are going to give it everything for you guys. Keep the positivity coming.”

Bahrain has been battered by unusually strong winds over the last couple of days but the real storm will begin when Hamilton and Max Verstappen, who benefited from the race director’s shock call to claim his first world crown, resume their bitter rivalry. Make no mistake, this is personal. Hamilton versus Verstappen. Toto Wolff versus Christian Horner.

At an event in Dubai earlier this week, Hamilton appeared to play down the chances of his Mercedes team getting off to a flying start. “We’re not the quickest at the moment,” he said. “I think Ferrari looks to be the quickest and perhaps Red Bull and then maybe us or McLaren.”

But Verstappen responded: “It’s always like this. If someone is doing well or if it’s a team that everyone expects to do well, then it’s … ‘oh no, we’re definitely not the favourite’. And then, when things go well, all of a sudden it’s … ‘we turned it around completely within a week’.”

Lewis Hamilton is all prepared for the season opener in Bahrain


Clive Mason/Getty Images)

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While, in the wake of the dramatic finale to 2021, Hamilton and Verstappen do appear to have tried to keep a lid on their enmity, it has become obvious the two team principals simply do not get on. “It would be dishonest if I pretended to be his mate,” Horner says of Wolff. “I don’t really like him that much. We are different characters. He runs his team from his tax haven in Monaco, I’m in Milton Keynes in the factory when I’m not at the race track.”

While Wolff has given his number one driver a new team-mate in 24-year-old Englishman George Russell, Horner has the same pairing in Verstappen and Sergio Perez, who did his bit in the Dutchman’s triumph by holding up Hamilton in that final race. And Perez reckons his Red Bull running partner sets the standard on the current grid.

Perez said: “Right now, Max is the best driver on the grid. He is definitely a great reference for myself and you always want to be racing against the best. I was in a special position where I could do something for Max and the team … but I want to be the one that is fighting for the championship and winning the championship for my team.”

That is highly unlikely. And while Russell might give Hamilton a better run for his money than Valtteri Bottas did, it will be the 37-year-old knight of the realm and, arguably, the greatest driver of all time, who will be leading the Mercedes charge. The storm is about to begin.

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