Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he had no concerns that Lewis Hamilton would retire from Formula 1 after the controversial 2021 title showdown and expects the "adversity" he faced to make him even stronger.
Hamilton lost out on what would have been a record-breaking eighth World Championship title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a controversial late Safety Car opened the door for Red Bull rival Max Verstappen.
Having gone silent on social media, talk grew that Hamilton might take the opportunity to step away from the sport, but he recently emerged and immersed himself in preparations for the 2022 campaign.
Mercedes were never worried about Hamilton retiring
After Hamilton himself stressed he "never, ever said" he would stop racing, Wolff explained that there was no 'Plan B' for Mercedes over the winter in terms of their driver line-up.
Hamilton, 37, has been joined by 24-year-old George Russell ahead of the new season, which marks the introduction of all-new technical regulations.
"I was never concerned that he was leaving," Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com, after the launch of Mercedes' W13.
"Within the team, we knew that he needed to take the time to reflect on things and particularly to understand how he would come back in the best possible frame of mind.
"There was, on our side, no worries about him not coming back."
Wolff expects Hamilton to come back even stronger
Wolff stated towards the end of last season that Red Bull had "woken up the lion" in Hamilton during a fierce title run-in, and he expects the events in Abu Dhabi to have a similar effect.
With a month to go to the 2022 season opener, Wolff warned Hamilton's rivals that he has emerged from his winter silence with "a great mindset".
"I think what he did was absolutely right, to take himself out of the microcosmos of Formula 1 and step aside, and black out socially," said Wolff.
"He has come back in a great mindset. He's positive, he's determined and the - yet again - adversity that was thrown at him, will make him stronger. As he said, it's attack mode."
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