Lewis Hamilton ready to ‘call a sickie’ to avoid driving 2022 Mercedes again

Lewis Hamilton joked he was ready to resort to an extreme measure to avoid driving his Mercedes again after his season of struggle ended in retirement in Abu Dhabi.

For the first time in his F1 career, the seven-time world champion went through an entire campaign without a victory. He was never likely to break his duck in Abu Dhabi, where Max Verstappen and Red Bull were the class of the field all weekend. The world champion cruised to victory with Charles Leclerc second and Sergio Perez third.

Having suffered minor damage when he hit a curb and bounced into the air while battling with Carlos Sainz early in the race, Hamilton retired with a mechanical issue three laps from the end.

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It meant he dropped to sixth in the standings behind Sainz and 35 points behind Mercedes teammate George Russell. Mercedes have improved over the course of the season but the W13 remains a car Hamilton will be glad to see the back of.

“This year was not the greatest,” said Hamilton, who is due to take part in a tyre test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

“It is probably up there with the top-three worst seasons, but in terms of how the team stayed united, there have been lots of pluses.

“It would have been nice to have taken a win, but one win is not really enough is it?

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“I feel like this year, when we got our first fifth, it felt like a win. When we got our first fourth, it felt like a win. When we got our first podium, it felt like a win, and those second places felt as if we really achieved something, so I’ll just hold on to those.”

On the upcoming tyre test at the Yas Marina Circuit, he added with a smile: “I might have to call a sickie, and say that maybe my back is hurting.

“I am very pleased it is over and done with. I gave it everything, but ultimately the last race was like my whole season. It summed up my year.”

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