Lewis Hamilton congratulated Max Verstappen after the Dutchman denied the Briton his eighth World Championship in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but he says he is extremely proud of his Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team for their efforts in 2021.
Hamilton was looking to break the record he currently shares with Michael Schumacher of seven titles on Sunday and was on course to do just that until a late safety car caused by Nicholas Latifi’s crash went against him.
Verstappen pitted for fresh tyres while Hamilton stayed on old hard tyres, and when the lapped cars were allowed to pass him – to many controversially – the Briton did not have the pace or grip in his car to deny the Red Bull Racing driver the win and the championship.
Despite losing out on the title, Hamilton was gracious in defeat, and he praised his team for giving him every chance to break records throughout 2021 only for him to come up short.
“Yeah, well firstly a big congratulations to Max and to his team,” said Hamilton during the post-race press conference. “I think we did an amazing job this year.
“My team, everyone back at the factory, all the men and women we have, and here, have worked so hard this whole year. It has been the most difficult of seasons. I’m so proud of them, so grateful to be part of the journey with them. We gave it everything.
“This last part of the season we gave it absolutely everything and we never gave up and that’s the most important thing.”
Hamilton says he wants to take some time away from the sport during the off-season before he concentrates on fighting back in 2022, but he admitted he was feeling good in the car in 2021, particularly towards the end of the campaign.
“Of course, I’ve been feeling good, feeling great in the car these last couple of months particularly at the end,” he said. “If I’m honest, we are still in the pandemic and I just really wish to stay safe and have a good Christmas with all their families and we will see about next year.”