LEWIS HAMILTON looks set to continue his Formula One career – after hints he would retire before the new season.
The British hero, 36, missed out on a record-breaking eighth world championship on the last lap of the 2021 season.
Max Verstappen overtook him in dramatic fashion after significant help from the safety car and race director Michael Masi to snatch his maiden title.
And there were fears Hamilton would call it a day in the sport after the heartbreaking finale.
Even former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone reckoned Hamilton’s time was up because he is ready to explore other ventures.
Ecclestone said: “I don’t think he is coming back, I think he will not race next year.
“His disappointment in Abu Dhabi was too great, and I understand him.
“Now, tied for seven titles with Michael Schumacher, it is the perfect time for him to fulfil his dream and be a fashion entrepreneur.”
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But Hamilton’s team Mercedes took to Twitter in the New Year – suggesting Hamilton is fired up and raring to go in 2022.
They posted a photo of the Stevenage superstar wearing his race suit looking pensively into the light.
The caption said: “Adversity causes some to break; others to break records.”
Hamilton has not posted on social media since the Abu Dhabi GP more than three weeks ago and unfollowed everybody on Instagram.
He has also been ignoring newly-elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s messages – and skipped the FIA end-of-season gala.
But despite the radio silence, Ben Sulayem is confident Hamilton will be battling to reclaim the world title when the season starts in Bahrain in March.
He said: “No, I don’t think he will quit.
“I’ll ask your question: did Lewis declare that he’s not going to race? No. Exactly. Being a driver, you declare yourself, you don’t let the rumours talk.
“I’m confident that Lewis will return. Lewis is a big part of motorsport, and of course of Formula One, the new era can add to Lewis’ wins and achievements, and also Verstappen is there.
“I am very confident that you will see a very challenging Formula One season next year.”