Hamilton Breaks Silence, Posts ‘I’m Back!’ on social networks | Sports News

By JENNA FRYER, AP Auto Racing Editor

Lewis Hamilton returned to social media on Saturday after a long silence that dates back to last season’s controversial Formula 1 final.

Hamilton had disappeared from public view after being denied a record eighth championship in December’s final in Abu Dhabi. He reappeared on Saturday with a message that showed the seven-time champion smiling from what appears at the Grand Canyon.

” I left. Now I’m back!” wrote Hamilton.

Hamilton gave a brief post-race interview following his December 12 loss to Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. He skipped the mandatory press conference, skipped the gala in Paris and his last public appearance came three days after the Abu Dhabi race when Hamilton received his knighthood at Windsor Castle.

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Hamilton refused to speak to the media at Windsor Castle and his last social media post was on the eve of the season finale.

Speculation has swirled that Hamilton, who turned 37 last month, will retire from F1 over his disgust with the way the championship has been decided. Hamilton and his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff both skipped the mandatory end-of-season awards ceremony held four days after the final.

Hamilton’s refusal to attend the gala is being investigated by the FIA, which elected new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem the day after the gala. Sulayem also promised a report in mid-February on the results of the FIA’s in-depth review of the Abu Dhabi finale.

Hamilton was minutes away from breaking Michael Schumacher’s record eighth title until a late warning changed the entire closing streak. Verstappen beat Hamilton in a one-round shootout that the governing body is still reviewing.

Hamilton had a nearly 12-second lead with Verstappen in second when the accident brought out the yellow flag with five laps to go. Verstappen found fresh tires while Hamilton stayed on track. The race director first said lapped drivers could not pass the safety car, then overturned the appeal in a decision that dropped Verstappen back to second when the race resumed with one lap remaining.

Verstappen then passed Hamilton to win his first world championship.

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