Following an eventful, dramatic and – dare we say it – the best Formula One season to date, the 2022 campaign has plenty to live up to.

Lewis Hamilton is going in search of a record eighth world title at the second time of asking after missing out to Max Verstappen on the final lap of the final race in 2021.

Reigning champion Verstappen is himself seeking some personal history this coming campaign, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

Ahead of what will hopefully be an equally as gripping season this time around, Stats Perform picks out some of the key numbers.

 

Hamilton narrowly missed out on surpassing Michael Schumacher as F1's most successful driver, though he has not missed out on top spot in successive years since joining Mercedes in 2013.

Should he match his achievement from last year, Red Bull's Verstappen (25 years, two months) would surpass Fernandes Alonso (25y, 2m, 23 days) as the second-youngest multiple world champion, behind only Sebastian Vettel (24y, 3m).

Mercedes may have suffered disappointment last time out, but they still finished top of the constructors' standings for a record-extending eighth time in a row. They are one short of equalling Williams as the second-most successful team, though Ferrari (16) are still well out in front.

In terms of other team milestones, Bahrain will be the 250th GP Mercedes have competed in, while they are six fastest laps away from setting 100. McLaren, meanwhile, are seven podiums from reaching 500 in F1.

Joining Hamilton at Mercedes this season is compatriot George Russell, who along with McLaren's Lando Norris is aiming to become the first Briton other than Hamilton to win a race since Jenson Button in 2012.

Bottas is now at Alfa Romeo and is joined by Guanyu Zhou, who will be China's first ever representative on the grid, making them the 39th country to appear in F1. Indeed, it is the first time three Asian countries will be represented, with Alex Albon (Thailand) and Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) also featuring.

 

Now 14 years on from their most recent constructors' title, Ferrari will equal their worst-such streak – 15 years between 1984 and 1998 – if they again miss out this term.

Carlos Sainz is Ferrari's big hope and he has either matched or bettered his performance from the previous season – both in terms of points and position – over the past six years when racing for just one team.

While his title chances are slim at best, Fernando Alonso has the opportunity to become the driver with the biggest margin between F1 titles of all time, 16 years on from his most recent success. 

Twenty-two events are currently locked in the F1 calendar for this year, with Miami set to become the 77th different circuit used when it hosts its maiden GP in May. It will be the 11th different track used in the United States, which is the most of any country.

McLaren's Lando Norris acknowledges he does not "push the limits" as much as World Champion Max Verstappen does, as he prepares to do battle with the Dutchman in the new Formula One campaign. 

Norris finished sixth in the 2021 Drivers' Championship standings but has been tipped by many to fare better when the 2022 Formula One season begins with Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Norris watched on as Verstappen beat Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton to the drivers' title in contentious circumstances last year, attracting criticism from some quarters for what has been perceived as an aggressive driving style. 

Speaking ahead of this weekend's curtain-raiser in Bahrain, the 22-year-old said he was not sure how he would deal with a rival as combative as Verstappen.

"It's a different battle, because of how Max races," Norris said. 

"It's a different breed of drivers. You saw how he drove and changed when it came down to those final races, with aggression.

"It's maybe something you don't experience so much in the midfield because you're not going for a world championship, or some of the drivers don't have that mentality of risking everything.

"You would try and play smart as much as you can [when facing a rival like Verstappen].

"But I'm also a fair racer and, I don't know, maybe don't push the limits quite as much in certain areas."

Both Norris and new Mercedes driver George Russell are aiming to become the first British driver other than Lewis Hamilton to win a race for almost a decade, with Jenson Button the last to do so when winning the Brazilian Grand Prix in November 2012.

Meanwhile, McLaren are just seven podium finishes away from reaching a total of 500 in Formula One, with Norris recording four such finishes across the 2021 campaign.

Lewis Hamilton was hurting after the remarkable conclusion to the 2021 season, but he has had time to reset and prepare for another tilt at a record-breaking eighth Formula One drivers' championship.

Hamilton was denied the title in dramatic fashion last year, when a highly contentious decision from then race director Michael Masi gave Max Verstappen the opportunity to pass him on the final lap of the season to be crowned champion for the first time.

Mercedes feared Hamilton would quit the sport as a result, but the man Toto Wolff described as a "lion" in last season's run-in is ready to fight again – starting at this week's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Not that Hamilton is expecting this season to be any more straightforward than the last.

Verstappen has proven he can match Hamilton over the course of a campaign, while George Russell will hope to prove more competitive than Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes seat. The new F1 regulations also mean a potential challenge from the midfield, with Ferrari fast in pre-season.

"We're certainly not at the top," a pessimistic Hamilton said last week, but Verstappen dismissed those comments while acknowledging Ferrari's pace.

The Red Bull superstar suggested Hamilton and Mercedes would quickly turn their fortunes around – and that certainly fits with the Briton's career to date.

"He's an exceptional driver," former Ferrari star Felipe Massa told Stats Perform, "one who is undoubtedly the main man in the sport today because of the records he holds in Formula One.

"No one ever imagined that he would even come close to beating [Michael] Schumacher's records. He overtook pretty much everyone else. One more title is missing to go ahead as a record holder."

That eighth title will remain the goal this year, but Hamilton could move ahead of Schumacher in another sense as soon as Sunday; he has won in 15 consecutive F1 seasons since 2007, meaning victory in a 16th would top the German (1992-2006).

 

Hamilton's happy hunting ground

In pursuit of that new benchmark, Hamilton will be happy to be back in Bahrain, where he has such an outstanding history.

Of the 17 editions of the Bahrain GP, Hamilton has won a record five races, including the past three. No other driver has won three in succession at this event – and that sequence could be extended to four this week.

Mercedes have recorded the most pole positions (six) and podiums (15) at the Bahrain Grand Prix, ranking one ahead of Ferrari in each category.

The Silver Arrows and the Scuderia are tied for Bahrain wins (six) and fastest laps (five) heading into the 2022 race.

We are in a special week for Mercedes, too, as this is the team's 250th grand prix. With 124 victories so far, they could mark the occasion by improving their win rate to an outstanding 50 per cent, the best such performance by any one team.

Red Bull set for reality check?

Verstappen's record at this track is not quite so impressive, even if he almost beat Hamilton last season having started from pole, forced to give his place back after exceeding track limits in passing his rival.

That was Verstappen's seventh Bahrain GP without victory – an eighth fruitless appearance would make this the grand prix he has entered most without winning.

He has retired three times at the Bahrain GP and, including the 2020 Sakhir GP, a career-high four times at this circuit.

The Dutchman at least has the benefit of the confidence of his championship triumph – and a "ridiculously fast" Red Bull, according to Hamilton – but first-time champions have not typically fared well in the first race of their title defence.

Only three of the past 14 first-time defending champions have won on the first weekend of the new season: Michael Schumacher in 1995, Fernando Alonso in 2006 and Sebastian Vettel in 2011.

At least securing pole would mean a positive omen, as Red Bull drivers have gone on to win the title on the four previous occasions they have started the season by qualifying fastest (Vettel in 2010, 2011 and 2013, plus Verstappen last year).

Hamilton in 2015 and 2016 was the last driver to achieve back-to-back Bahrain poles, although only seven Bahrain GP winners have started from the front of the grid.

Lewis Hamilton has revealed he is set to change his name as he prepares for the 2022 Formula One season.

The seven-time F1 world champion will include his mother Carmen's maiden name, Larbalestier, in his name.

Hamilton's parents, Anthony and Carmen, separated when he was only two.

The 37-year-old is not sure when his new name will be confirmed, stating it is a work in progress ahead of the first race of the year in Bahrain this weekend.

"It would mean the world to my family [to win a record eighth F1 title]," the British driver said at the 2022 Dubai Expo.

"It would mean a lot to me knowing that, for example, I'm really proud of my family's name: Hamilton. Actually, none of you might know that my mum's [sur]name is Larbalestier.

"And I'm just about to put that in my name. Because I don't really fully understand the whole idea of why, when people get married, the woman loses her name. I really want her name to continue on with the Hamilton name."

Asked if he will have a different name in the first race of the season, he replied: "It will be soon. No, I don't know if it will be this weekend. But we're working on it."

Max Verstappen has responded with scepticism to Lewis Hamilton's claims Mercedes will not be competing for victories in the early stages of the 2022 Formula One season.

Verstappen, who beat Hamilton to the 2021 Drivers' Championship in controversial circumstances at last December's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, posted the fastest time on the final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain on Saturday.

Ahead of Bahrain hosting the first Grand Prix of the season next week, Hamilton suggested Mercedes will likely not be competing for early season wins, due to problems with the team's new W13 car.

His rival Verstappen, however, scoffed at those comments, accusing Mercedes, and other Formula One teams, of playing down their potential before the season begins.

"[It's] always like this," the world champion said in quotes reported by Autosport.

"If someone is doing well or a team that everyone expects to do well, then it's 'oh no, we're definitely not the favourite'.

"And then a week later, when things do go well, all of a sudden it's 'oh no, but we turned it around completely within a week. Not normal, unbelievable work. Thanks to all people in the factory!'"

 

Verstappen also noted Mercedes were "very strong during the first race weekend" in 2021, with Hamilton winning the season opener in Bahrain after making similar comments about the team's issues this time last year.

The 24-year-old also spoke of Ferrari as potential rivals for Red Bull during the coming season, noting they had been "consistently fast" throughout pre-season.

"They [Ferrari] clearly have a stable car at the moment," he added.

"It just looks good for them, they have had very few problems as well. We will see next week who is fastest, but so far, they have had a very good test.

"The last two years weren't great for them, so you automatically start looking at this season a bit earlier than some of the other teams. It's more than normal that they started earlier than us on the 2022 car and that's okay as well.

"In the end, with these new cars, the development rate during the season is the most important thing."

Lewis Hamilton claims he is not expecting to be competing for victories at the start of the new Formula One season after experiencing difficulties during testing.

Neither Hamilton, who has won the drivers' championship a joint-record seven times, nor new Mercedes team-mate George Russell were among the fastest drivers on the final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain, as Max Verstappen topped the timesheets.

With Red Bull's defending champion faring well just a week before the Bahrain Grand Prix opens the campaign, Hamilton suggested he is not holding out much hope of a strong start, with Mercedes experiencing performance issues with their new W13 car.

"I'm sure everyone can figure it out, we're not the quickest at the moment," Hamilton told a news conference on Saturday.

"Ferrari looks to be the quickest and perhaps Red Bull, and then maybe us or McLaren. I don't know, but we're certainly not at the top.

"Obviously it's a little bit too early to get into [hopes of winning the drivers' championship] or have those kinds of thoughts, but at the moment I don't think we'll be competing for wins.

"But there is potential within our car to get us there. We've just got to learn to extract it and fix some of the problems. 

"That's what we are working on and everyone is doing an incredible job back at the factory working as hard as they can, but we have some hurdles to overcome."

Hamilton, who won 2021's season opener in Bahrain, also denied he was deliberately playing down expectations to hide the car's true strength. 

"Obviously next week we'll get a much better showing of our pace, but I think people will be surprised," he explained.

"People keep saying that we keep talking ourselves down, but it's a bit different this year. It feels a lot different. It's not as good, I don't think it's going to look as it did last year with the difficult session we had in testing and then switch over [to win] the race.

"I think we have far bigger challenges this time and they are not one-week turnarounds; they'll take a little bit longer. But, from what I told, we have a considerable amount of pace to find."

"At the moment the performance isn't there," the 24-year-old said.

"We are a step behind our rivals, and we do have a lot of work to do between now and next week to understand, because in every condition the Red Bull and the Ferrari seem a step ahead of us.

"I don't think they're exceptional, I think we're probably not as competitive as we would like.

"[But] I believe the guys are going get to the bottom of it. There is potential there, we just need to figure out a way to unlock that performance."

The 2021 Formula One title race was one for the ages.

Fortunately, the release of season four of Netflix's 'Drive to Survive' series is landing on Friday, giving fans the opportunity to relive the drama and whetting appetites for the forthcoming 2022 campaign.

Few will forget how last season ended, with Max Verstappen pipping Lewis Hamilton in scarcely believable circumstances on the final lap of the final race.

But there had been controversy throughout the year even before that point, making the latest edition of one of sport's great documentaries a must-watch.

Fans will be desperate to learn how 2021 played out behind the scenes, but what should they be looking for? Stats Perform picks out five flashpoints.

Silverstone contact sets the tone

A back-and-forth title tussle between Verstappen and Hamilton was already nine races old by the time the teams arrived at Silverstone – at which point the 'Drive to Survive' producers must have thought they had hit the jackpot.

Hamilton ended a five-race barren run for Mercedes with victory in his home race, but only after sending Verstappen into the barriers at Copse Corner on lap one – a 10-second penalty of little consolation to Red Bull, whose team principal Christian Horner slammed the 2020 champion's "dirty driving".

Seeing the reaction on the pit wall would be of interest to any fan, although this clash merely teed up the drama to come.

Mixed fortunes for furious Lewis in the wet

Two races last year descended into chaos due to the weather, with Verstappen winning in Belgium while Hamilton triumphed in Russia, benefiting from Lando Norris' spin in the rain for his 100th victory. That Sochi result cancelled out events at Spa, where Hamilton had been far from impressed.

Viewers will likely learn more about developments at the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix from 'Drive to Survive' than from live coverage at the time, as the race lasted just two laps under a safety car following Sunday rain.

That was enough to declare a result with half points, with Verstappen rewarded for pipping breakout star George Russell to pole. In public, Hamilton fumed it was "all a money scenario", and it is unlikely he was any calmer in private.

McLaren one-two after halo saves Hamilton

Between Belgium and Russia was the Italian GP at Monza, with perhaps the scariest moment of the season. Verstappen's battle with Hamilton went a little too far as he rode over the Briton's car, with the Mercedes halo required to keep the driver from serious harm.

"I am so grateful I am still here," said Hamilton after being forced to retire, with Verstappen later following him back into the garage.

The documentary cameras surely could not miss this key moment in the title race, but 'Drive to Survive' has been hugely successful in picking out narratives right down the grid – and this was a notable weekend in the midfield, as McLaren profited with a one-two courtesy of Daniel Ricciardo and Norris.

Hamilton heroics at special Sao Paulo GP

Verstappen arrived in Brazil 19 points clear of Hamilton with four races remaining, and the odds were increasingly stacked against his rival over the course of the weekend at the Sao Paulo GP.

Hamilton served a five-place grid penalty when his qualifying time – the fastest on the grid – was struck off for a DRS infringement, meaning he had to start from 10th even after recovering from 20th to fifth in the sprint race. Verstappen escaped punishment when he forced the Mercedes man wide in the main race, too.

Remarkably, Hamilton still won, with Toto Wolff claiming the various setbacks had "woke up the lion". There would have been no final-day spectacle if not for the Briton's late-season charge, which started in Brazil.

Two weeks of epic drama decide title

The final episode of the season will surely focus on the decider in Abu Dhabi, where race director Michael Masi's application of the rules infuriated Mercedes as Hamilton was denied a record-breaking eighth championship in fairly ridiculous fashion.

Footage from that race should entertain even F1 sceptics, with Wolff likely to play a prominent role having pleaded with Masi not to make the contentious call that cost Hamilton and crowned Verstappen.

But the stakes were only such because the pair had entered that race all square in the standings – only the second time this had ever happened – after a similarly eventful Saudi Arabian GP.

Verstappen could have wrapped up the title with time to spare but lost out to Hamilton after a qualifying crash, two red flags and a succession of safety cars, hinting at the level of incident that was to come the following week.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner disagrees with the decision to remove controversial Formula One race director Michael Masi.

Masi was offered a new role elsewhere in the FIA after being replaced by two men in Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas for the 2022 season.

The Australian official was at the forefront of the controversy surrounding Max Verstappen's title triumph last year.

Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton in the final lap of the final race, but he was only able to stage that late recovery after Masi let the cars between the pair – running first and second but separated by a series of lapped rivals – pass a safety car and allow one lap of racing.

Verstappen, on fresher tyres, prevailed, prompting a protest from Hamilton and Mercedes that failed – although Masi has now been removed from his role.

"It's going to be interesting to see how that works," Horner told BBC Breakfast on Monday.

"For me, you want consistency. Having one race director, for me, was preferential, rather than splitting that role.

"We have a new president [Mohammed Ben Sulayem] who has come in and inherited this situation, and he's looked to impose change.

"It's great that Herbie Blash, a very experienced race control member, is coming back into the fray as well, so we will see how it pans out.

"But I thought it was harsh on Michael Masi that he was replaced after a lot of pressure being put on him. Everything is back to zero, new season, new regulations."

Wittich and Freitas will have to deal with a similarly tense, tight title race, though, according to Horner.

"It has been so intense," said Horner. "I think you might get a couple of other drivers come into that fray as well.

"It was epic last year, and if that continues I think there's going to be some fantastic races in the season ahead.

"It's great for the sport. The sport has never had so much coverage and so much following. The following in the sport has gone exponential over the last season, and that's great to see."

Max Verstappen has signed a five-year contract extension with Red Bull ahead of the 2022 season.

The Formula One world champion's previous deal was due to expire next year, but his team on Thursday announced that the 24-year-old will stay on until at least the end of the 2028 season.

Verstappen claimed his first F1 title in 2021 by pipping Lewis Hamilton in controversial circumstances in Abu Dhabi.

The Dutchman said: "I really enjoy being part of Red Bull Racing, so choosing to stay to the 2028 season was an easy decision. I love this team and last year was simply incredible.

"Our goal since we came together in 2016 was to win the championship and we have done that, so now it's about keeping the number one on the car long-term."

Hamilton had seemingly won a record-breaking eighth crown last year, but Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed with four laps to go in Abu Dhabi, leading to the safety car coming out.

When the race restarted there was only one lap remaining and Verstappen was able to start just behind his rival despite Hamilton previously having a significant lead over him. Verstappen’s car had been fitted with new tyres, enabling him to overtake the Mercedes driver and sensationally dethrone his rival.

Verstappen would have likely been in line for a new deal regardless of that incredible outcome at the Yas Marina Circuit, with Mercedes generally seen as the only team that could compete with Red Bull from a financial perspective.

Tension between the two teams in the 2021 campaign – not to mention Mercedes already paying Hamilton a fortune – made a switch to their rivals in the near future highly unlikely.

According to reports, Verstappen's new deal puts his earnings in a similar bracket to Hamilton, with the world champion apparently set to be paid €40-50million (£33-42m) per year – the seven-time champion is said to earn €48m (£40m).

Red Bull and Verstappen will be relieved to have such formalities out of the way in plenty of time ahead of the new season, which is due to begin with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20, the weekend after a second round of pre-season testing.

Max Verstappen has signed a five-year contract extension with Red Bull ahead of the 2022 season.

The Formula One world champion's previous deal was due to expire next year, but his team on Thursday announced that the 24-year-old will stay on until at least the end of the 2028 season.

Verstappen claimed his first F1 title in 2021 by pipping Lewis Hamilton in controversial circumstances in Abu Dhabi.

The Dutchman said: "I really enjoy being part of Red Bull Racing, so choosing to stay to the 2028 season was an easy decision. I love this team and last year was simply incredible.

"Our goal since we came together in 2016 was to win the championship and we have done that, so now it's about keeping the number one on the car long-term."

The FIA has expressed pride at the standard of stewarding in Formula One, in response to Lewis Hamilton's earlier comments on the need for "non-biased stewards" in the upcoming season.

Hamilton, who missed out on a record-breaking eighth title in a controversial finale to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last December, made the comments at 2022's first testing session in Barcelona.

The 37-year-old lost his title to Red Bull's Max Verstappen in the final seconds of the season, after since-removed race director Michael Masi unlapped a series of cars to permit one final lap of racing, with the Dutchman on new tyres.

Hamilton criticised the officiating of F1 in a news conference, insisting that some drivers "are very good friends with certain individuals" and claiming a requirement for "non-biased stewards".

In response, a spokesman for the sport's governing body said: "The FIA is proud of its global stewarding pathway that connects and develops the most talented stewards from across motorsport."

"This has resulted in a strong, independent and experienced group of officials who carry out their work with impartiality and the utmost professionalism."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had earlier disagreed with Hamilton's comments, saying he did not think there was a "conscious bias" towards any teams.

Hamilton completed 50 laps in Mercedes' new W13 car in Barcelona, and will kick-start his attempt to regain the title at the Bahrain Grand Prix next month. Meanwhile, his team are looking to extend their record-breaking run of eight successive constructors' titles, which began in 2014.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner have pledged to move on from the fierce rivalry that engulfed Formula One's leading teams last season.

December's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix saw Red Bull's Max Verstappen win his first Drivers' Championship in contentious fashion, after race director Michael Masi elected to unlap cars between Verstappen and leader Lewis Hamilton, permitting one lap of racing which saw the Dutchman snatch the title in the season's final seconds.

Mercedes reacted furiously to the result and rumours spread that a disillusioned Hamilton could even quit the sport, while Masi was removed from his role ahead of the 2022 season, with two new race directors appointed in his place.

Hamilton, however, will be going for an eighth world title this season and speaking at the first testing session in Barcelona, both Wolff and Horner were keen to draw a line under the events of 2021, and look ahead to the upcoming campaign.

"It [the rivalry] is to be expected," Wolff said in a news conference. "It got fierce at times and brutal, But there's a lot at stake.

"It's a Formula One world championship, there's the fighting on-track, and the fighting off-track for advantages. That's okay.

"But we need to move on. There's been so much talk about Abu Dhabi, it came to a point that it was really damaging for all stakeholders of F1, and we've closed the chapter and moved on.

"Now it's about 2022, the game is on again, all points to zero, new opportunity and new risk."

Lewis Hamilton insisted Formula One must ensure that there is no bias from stewards heading into the 2022 season.

Hamilton was beaten by Red Bull's Max Verstappen in a contentious conclusion to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after race director Michael Masi elected to allow a series of cars to pass a late safety car, permitting one lap of racing with the Dutchman on new tyres.

Masi has since been removed from his role, while rumours abounded that Hamilton could leave the sport, though the seven-time world champion last week confirmed he would be racing once again for Mercedes this season.

Two new race directors will share the role Masi has vacated.

At the first testing session in Barcelona ahead of the new campaign, which starts on March 20 in Bahrain, Hamilton was asked if the changes would result in more consistent decision-making.

"We need to make sure we have non-biased stewards, too," the 37-year-old said.

"Racing drivers, some are very good friends with certain individuals, some travel with certain individuals and tend to take more of a keen liking to some of them.

"I think [we need] people who have no bias, are super central when it comes to making decisions."

Hamilton's belief is not shared by his team's boss, Toto Wolff, however.

"I think we need professionalism in the stewards' room," said Wolff in a news conference.

"I don't think there is a conscious bias to be honest. It's intelligent people."

Red Bull's Christian Horner, who has a not-so-secret rivalry with his Mercedes counterpart, agreed.

"I would agree with Toto that I don't think there's an intended bias. I'm not aware of any stewards travelling with drivers to races," he added.

"In [FIA president] Mohammed [ben Sulayem] we have a new president that is looking to bolster the structure and bring in an equivalent of a VAR [video assistant referee, used in football], and I think giving a better infrastructure for clearer decisions with clearer regulations is something that should be strived for.

"But I certainly don't think there was any bias from any stewards during the last seasons."

Lewis Hamilton has denied reports he was considering leaving Formula One, as the seven-time Drivers Champion looks to bounce back from the controversial finale to the 2021 season.

Hamilton was beaten by Red Bull's Max Verstappen in a contentious conclusion to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after race director Michael Masi elected to allow a series of cars to pass a late safety car, permitting one lap of racing with the Dutchman on new tyres.

Masi has since been removed from his role, while rumours abounded that Hamilton could leave the sport. But, speaking at the launch of Mercedes' new W13 car, Hamilton denied that his return was ever in question.

"I never, ever said that I was going to stop", he said. "I love doing what I do, and it is such a privilege working with this large group of people.

"You really feel like you're part of a team and part of a family, working towards that common goal. There's no feeling quite like it.

"But yeah...it was obviously a difficult time for me, and it was a time where I really needed to take a step back and focus on being present."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had previously hinted that Hamilton was left 'disillusioned' by finishing second, but the 37-year-old now claims to be focused on making a successful start to the 2022 season next month.

He also expressed his excitement at working with new teammate George Russell, who has replaced Valtteri Bottas after leaving Williams in the off-season.

"I eventually got to a point where I decided I was going to be attacking, coming into another season working with Toto and George," he added.

"It's exciting seeing George come in and bring his energy. I can already feel that throughout the team. I think it's going to be an exciting season."

The launch of the W13 sees the German constructor return to its classic silver livery after two years using a black colourway, as part of an anti-racism campaign, and the car has been advertised by Mercedes as '98 per cent new' and as 'the product of a complete redesign from top to bottom'.

With the team bidding for a ninth consecutive Constructors' Championship title, Hamilton is keen to ensure standards remain high.

He said: "Naturally, every single individual within this team has worked towards the ultimate goal of winning the world championship, raising the bar and doing something that no one else has done before."

Michael Masi will no longer serve as race director in Formula One as the fallout from the 2021 finale in Abu Dhabi continues.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced on Thursday "an in-depth reform of the organisation of refereeing and race direction" in F1, which was unanimously supported by the teams.

This followed a "detailed analysis" of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen dramatically beat Lewis Hamilton to the drivers' championship last season.

Verstappen pipped Hamilton in the final lap of the final race, denying his rival a record-breaking eighth title.

However, the Red Bull superstar was only able to stage that late recovery after Masi let the cars between the pair – running first and second but separated by a series of lapped rivals – pass a safety car and allow one lap of racing.

Verstappen, on fresher tyres, prevailed, prompting a protest from Hamilton and Mercedes.

Although that bid failed, there has remained a great deal of discussion around Masi's decision-making, leading to Ben Sulayem unveiling his "new step forward in Formula One refereeing".

The most significant change made by the FIA chief is Masi's removal as race director, to be replaced by two men in Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas.

Starting from pre-season testing in Barcelona, the new pair will alternate as race director, assisted by permanent senior advisor Herbie Blash.

However, Masi is not necessarily out entirely, as Ben Sulayem added: "Michael Masi, who accomplished a very challenging job for three years as Formula One race director following Charlie Whiting, will be offered a new position within the FIA."

Other changes include a reassessment of the unlapping procedures that caused such controversy.

"Without the referees, there is no sport," Ben Sulayem said. "Respect and support of the referees is in the essence of the FIA.

"That is why these structural changes are crucial in a context of strong development and the legitimate expectations of drivers, teams, manufacturers, organisers, and of course, the fans.

"I warmly thank all those who contributed to this reform.

"These changes will enable us to start the 2022 Formula One season in the best conditions, and our sport will be even more loved and respected."

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