Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he struggled with returning to Abu Dhabi for the 2022 season finale following the controversial ending to the 2021 race.
The Briton infamously lost out on a potential eighth World Championship at last year's Grand Prix when Max Verstappen overtook him on the final lap after a contentious Safety Car ruling, with the race victory handing the Dutchman the title.
Hamilton disappeared from public view in the weeks after the event, leading to speculation over whether he would even return for the 2022 campaign.
It was not until February that the seven-time World Champion reemerged via a social media post, and he was soon back in action as the new season got underway.
However, 2022 proved to be a challenging year performance-wise for Mercedes, with Hamilton arriving into the final race in Abu Dhabi without a win to his name.
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Hamilton reveals feelings upon Abu Dhabi return
During an interview with Channel 4 over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, Hamilton was asked whether he had experienced any sense of anxiety at returning to the Yas Marina Circuit one year on from the events of 2021.
"It didn't feel great walking in here," he explained.
"I don't know. I couldn't say that I necessarily wanted to be here."
To break out of this mindset, Hamilton decided to focus on the positives, an attitude that he has tried to maintain throughout 2022.
"If I'm really honest, since I've been in my room, I've been getting my head down into preparation," the Silver Arrows driver said.
"I've generally been really focused in this past week – and most days anyways this year – [on] just trying to make sure [I remember something] that is so, so important, I think, for everybody.
"We get caught up in all these different things that we're experiencing, and [we're] forgetting just to be living in gratitude. That's something you've really got to remember, because there are so many people that are having a difficult time, way, way worse times.
"There's so many people that are struggling. It could be so, so much worse, and it's just [important to] always remember to live, be grateful for a new day, a new chance to be better, a new chance to challenge yourself and shape the future.
"That's what I'm focused on right now so, again, [with] whatever negative feeling I have, I try to take it, brush it aside and move forward."
Hamilton wasn't expecting 'amazing' support after Abu Dhabi
Hamilton admits that he was surprised by just how much support he received following the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, something that he credits with helping him through Mercedes' struggles in 2022.
"I was definitely not expecting what would come after, in terms of the amazing support from the fans of the sport, but particularly my fans," the 37-year-old said.
"Then just the general love that I have experienced through the year, which I think is what's got me through the year, if I'm really honest, with the challenge of coming back in, wanting to fight back, but not being able to fight back with the car that we have, even though you're finishing maybe sixth [or] fighting for fifth or whatever it is.
"The amazing support we've had through the year, bigger crowds than ever before. I think us as a team have experienced more love and affection from people than ever before, and I think that's been really beautiful to see.
"I know some people in life struggle to accept love, and I've definitely been someone that's been like that for a long time, and so this year was one [where] I was able to open up a little bit more and absorb it, and it's really been a beautiful experience.
"I'm really, really grateful for that."
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