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HomeSportLewis Hamilton's response as Brit labelled F1 GOAT at Mercedes' 2022 car...

Lewis Hamilton's response as Brit labelled F1 GOAT at Mercedes' 2022 car launch

Lewis Hamilton couldn’t hide his smile as he was named “definitely” the greatest Formula One driver of all time at Mercedes’ car launch by host Natalie Pinkham. The constructors’ champions unveiled their 2022 challenger, the W13, on Friday morning with Hamilton, new team-mate George Russell and team boss Toto Wolff quizzed by Pinkham and Naomi Schiff before the new car was shown.

Mercedes enter the 2022 F1 season looking to win a ninth successive team title having again defended their crown last year, although Hamilton was pipped to the driver’s title by Red Bull rival Max Verstappen.

There was speculation over the winter break that the 37-year-old could walk away from the sport due to the controversial nature in which the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix panned out.

But seven-time world champion Hamilton was present alongside Russell and Wolff on Friday morning and the Austrian chief confirmed Mercedes were never seriously worried about the Briton retiring.

Russell is Hamilton’s new team-mate replacing Valtteri Bottas and spoke about his excitement upon racing alongside his countryman having followed his illustrious career as a fan before he moved into F1 himself in 2019, spending the last three seasons at Williams.

He said: “Having worked with Lewis or seeing Lewis work when I was a [Mercedes] junior driver and sitting in the engineering briefings, that will also feel quite natural to go in and be team-mates and race alongside him.”

Host Pinkham, a long-time F1 presenter and reporter who currently works for Sky Sports F1, picked up on Russell’s point.

She said: “You say natural to be alongside him. It must sort of be a bit surreal, the greatest driver of all time, arguably… definitely! How’d you respond to that challenge and opportunity?”

The camera then cut to Hamilton sat between Russell and Wolff and he could do little but wear a big smile in response to Pinkham’s high praise as Russell also smiled.

Russell then replied: “It’s definitely surreal. We’ve all seen the photo of Lewis and I when I was 10 years old! I think we’ve both changed quite a lot since then.

“It’s incredible to see, I was a young kid aspiring to reach F1 and Lewis was world champion at the time. Lewis was a superhero to me.

“You see these incredible people and you don’t think they’re human. Now, growing up, having the opportunity to race alongside Lewis is a real privilege for me. I’ve got such a great opportunity to learn and see how the best does it.”

Hamilton meanwhile told Pinkham and Schiff when quizzed about the possibility of retiring from the sport: “Well I never, ever said I was going to stop! I love doing what I do.

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“It is such a privilege working with this large group of people when you really feel like you’re a family and you’re a team working towards that common goal. There’s no feeling quite like it.

“It was obviously a difficult time for me. It was a time where I needed to take a step back and focus on being present. I was with my family all around me creating great moments.

“I eventually got to a point where I decided I’d be attacking again coming into another season, working with Toto and George.

“It’s exciting, seeing George come in and bringing his energy. I can already feel that throughout the team. I think it’s going to be an exciting season.

“It’s always a positive when you have new blood, new energy. George has had an amazing career so far in getting not only to F1 but what he’s done within F1. It’s going to be exciting to see him grow and to work with him.

“I’ve had him sitting behind me before at the desk when we’re working away getting the set-up at a race weekend, now I’ll be working opposite from him but collaborating with him and steering the car in the same direction. I’m excited for that.”

Wolff added of Hamilton: “I have never seen him more determined. Lewis is the best driver in the world, and he is joined by one of the brightest and most promising of their generation in George.

“I have no doubt that we can create an environment of partnership between the two, of productivity to develop this new car which will be essential, whilst maintaining a healthy competition that will motivate them and the wider team.”

The 2022 F1 season begins in Bahrain on March 18-20 but before then, shakedown testing will be held in Barcelona across the three days of February 23-25. The official pre-season test takes place in Bahrain on March 10-12.



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