Lewis Hamilton ends silence, posts “I’m back!” on social media

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Lewis Hamilton returned to social media Saturday following a lengthy silence that dates to last season’s controversial Formula 1 finale.

Hamilton had dropped out of public sight after he was denied a record eighth championship in the December finale in Abu Dhabi. He re-emerged Saturday with a post that showed the seven-time champion smiling from what appears to the Grand Canyon.

“I’ve been gone. Now I’m back!” wrote Hamilton.

Hamilton did one brief postrace interview following his Dec. 12 loss to Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. He skipped the mandatory news conference, skipped the gala in Paris, and his last public appearance was three days after the Abu Dhabi race when Hamilton received his knighthood at Windsor Castle.

Hamilton declined to speak to the media at Windsor Castle and his last social media post had been the night before t he season finale.

Speculation has swirled that Hamilton, who turned 37 last month, will retire from F1 over his disgust on how the championship was decided. Hamilton and his Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, both skipped the mandatory season-ending awards ceremony held four days after the finale.

Hamilton’s failure to attend the gala is under investigation by the FIA, which elected new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem the morning after the gala. Sulayem has also promised a mid-February report on the results of the FIA’s extensive review of the Abu Dhabi finale.

Hamilton was within minutes of breaking Michael Schumacher’s record with an eighth title until a late caution changed the entire closing sequence. Verstappen beat Hamilton in a one-lap shootout that the governing body is still reviewing.

Hamilton had a nearly 12-second lead with Verstappen in second when the crash brought out the yellow flag with five laps remaining. Verstappen pitted for fresh tires while Hamilton stayed on track. The race director initially said lapped drivers could not pass the safety car, then reversed the call in a decision that returned Verstappen to second when the race resumed with a lap remaining.

Verstappen then passed Hamilton to win his first world championship.