Lewis Hamilton Contemplated Quitting F1 after 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

After the controversial defeat to Max Verstappen at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton shares his thoughts on retiring.


By Ben Bush
Updated on February 2, 2024

Lewis Hamilton Contemplated Quitting F1 after 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

In the wake of his dramatic and controversial defeat to Max Verstappen at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has shared his thoughts about retiring from Formula 1.

The decisive race of that year, which was pivotal for the championship, saw Hamilton leading and on the verge of securing an unprecedented eighth title. However, a controversial decision by the then-race director Michael Masi, involving the Safety Car rules, unexpectedly shifted the race’s dynamics in Max Verstappen’s favour.

READ MORE: Alfa Romeo Shifts Gears to WEC, After Exiting Formula 1

In a dramatic final-lap twist, Verstappen, who had nothing to lose and had switched to new tyres, managed to overtake Hamilton, claiming both the race win and his first world championship.

Hamilton, notably stunned yet composed in the race’s immediate aftermath, withdrew from public view and refrained from social media activity throughout the winter.

The seven-time world champion has recently acknowledged that the incident led him to consider ending his Formula 1 career.

“For sure, yeah,” Hamilton was quoted by Autosport when asked if retirement had entered his thoughts. 

“There was so much going through my mind during that period in time. But I think one of the worst things you can do is make decisions based on emotions, because when you are emotional and in the heat of that moment, more often than not, you’re not going to make the best decisions. 

“Emotions were high, it was a really, really difficult period of time, so I had to just wait until things calmed down, and that I was clear in my thought and I was able to then make the right decisions.” 

Hamilton disclosed that the period he spent with his family played a crucial role in rekindling his passion for Formula 1, ultimately motivating him to make a comeback.

“I was around my niece and nephew and was in a beautiful place, in Hawaii, with my family, and at a point where I felt really content and felt I just wanted to get up again and keep going,” he explained.

The time off provided him with much-needed reflection and support, allowing him to reconnect with his core motivations and love for the sport. Surrounded by the comfort and encouragement of his loved ones, Hamilton found the inspiration to continue his journey in F1, reaffirming his dedication and commitment to racing. This family time not only offered him a respite from the intensity of racing but also helped him to gain a fresh perspective and renewed energy, which became pivotal in his decision to return to the track with renewed focus.

At 38 years old, the British racing icon has yet to secure a win following his last triumph at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. This extended period without a victory marks a significant shift in his illustrious career, characterised by frequent wins and podium finishes. The ongoing winless streak poses new challenges for the veteran driver, testing his resilience and adaptability in a rapidly evolving Formula 1 landscape.

Hamilton continued: “I think that’s a misconception,” Hamilton said of the significance of his two-year winless drought. “When I was younger, I had bad years when I was a kid.

“In 2009, the car was horrendous. We did have a win through the year because we had a second upgrade in the season.  

“Then 2010-11, also not great years. One on my side from a personal [point of view] the other more often than not the car was not spectacular.  

“So, it’s maybe the biggest drought in terms of success, but if you take away those wins, it’s been similar to those seasons.” 

Seen in:

About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

Latest Reads