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# 44 Lewis Hamilton (GBR, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team), F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by HOCH ZWEI)

Lewis Hamilton feels “cheated” out of eighth World Championship

The seven-time World Champion controversially lost out to rival Max Verstappen in a deciding in the Abu Dhabi last season

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has opened up about losing out to Red bull driver Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the controversial race last season.

Lewis Hamilton on the cover of Vanity Fair’s September 2022 Issue.(credit Vanity Fair)

The 37-year-old says he felt “cheated” out of his eighth World Championship when former FIA race director Michael Masi failed to un-lap all the cars on the final lap of the deciding race.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the seven-time World Champion opened up about how he felt in Abu Dhabi.

“You see things start to unfold and my worst fears came alive,” he said.

“I was like, there’s no way they’re going to cheat me out of this.

“There’s no way. That won’t happen. Surely not.”

“I don’t know if I can really put into words the feeling that I had,” he said.

“I do remember just sitting there just in disbelief and realising I’ve got to undo my belts.

“I’ve got to get out of there, I’ve got to climb out of this thing, I’ve got to find the strength.

“I had no strength. And it was one of the toughest moments, I would say, that I’ve had in a long, long time.”

Max Verstappen overtaking Lewis Hamilton for track position in Abu Dhabi on the final lap in 2021. (Photo by Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Hamilton’s heartache

Hamilton says he suspected that something fishy had happened and when asked if he felt that he had been cheated out of his eighth World Championship, the driver said: I knew what had happened. I knew what decisions had been made and why. Yes, I knew that something wasn’t right.”

After shaking Verstappen’s hand and congratulating him on his win, the driver was met by his father.

“He embraced me, and I think he was like, ‘I want you to know how proud I am of you.’,” he recalled.

“Having your father embrace you in that way is one of the most profound things ever, especially as you’ve grown up not many times having that.”

Mellody Hobson, a successful business leader and one of Hamilton’s close friends was in Abu Dhabi that night with her husband George Lucas.

“Like, no one would have been surprised if he had taken off his helmet and thrown it, or thrown the steering wheel,” said Hobson.

When the Star Wars and Indiana Jones director saw witnessed Hamilton’s gesture of shaking Verstappen’s hand after such a controversial victory, the Hollywood film-maker said: “Heroes are bigger than champions. Lewis just earned hero status.”

Hamilton admitted that he wasn’t immediately aware of Lucas’ words.

“I was going through whatever emotions I was going through, so no one could say anything to me,” said the Mercedes driver.

“It doesn’t matter who. It doesn’t really matter what is said. When you’re feeling a certain way, sometimes it’s hard to break through.”

“It’s one of the greatest compliments you could receive,” he says.

“It is very, very surreal to grow up watching Star Wars and have Yoda’s dad say positive things about you.”

Not done yet

Despite the rumours that Hamilton wanted to retire at the start of the season, the record-holding driver says he has put thought into expanding his time in Formula 1.

“I’ll be lying if I said that I hadn’t thought about extending,” he says.

“I’m still on the mission, I’m still loving driving, and I’m still being challenged by it. So I don’t really feel like I have to give it up anytime soon.

“I’m built different.

“I mean, I was built for this. It reminds me that people still don’t know me. Even after all these years. People still don’t know. So, all right, I’ll prove you wrong again.”

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