Lewis Hamilton: I never said I would quit Formula One

Hamilton: I never, ever said I was going to quit F1 (0:48)

Lewis Hamilton says he never had any plans to quit F1 after a controversial end to the 2021 season. (0:48)

Lewis Hamilton has dismissed the suggestion he considered quitting Formula One after losing the title on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton said his near-two month silence following that controversial event was simply him needing to "take a step back" and process what had happened.

Hamilton, who was on the brink of an unmatched eighth F1 championship, was overtaken by Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi on the last lap in what turned out to be a controversial race restart.

On Thursday this week the FIA removed F1 race director Michael Masi after a long investigation into how his decisions impacted those final laps.

In the days after Abu Dhabi, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff suggested Hamilton was "disillusioned" with F1 and hinted that the F1 star could quit. Hamilton's silence on social media and the fact he made no statement - even after receiving his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II - only heightened speculation he would walk away.

Hamilton clarified why he spent so long away from the spotlight on Friday, at the launch of Mercedes' 2022 car.

"I never ever said I was going to stop," Hamilton said in a presentation alongside Wolff and his new teammate George Russell.

He added: "It was obviously a difficult time for me and it was a time where I really needed to take a step back, focus on being present so I had my family all around me and creating great moments.

"Eventually, I got to a point where I decided I'm going to be attacking again coming into another season and working with Toto and George. It is exciting seeing George come in and bring his energy. I can already feel that throughout the team and I think it's going to be an exciting season."

Friday's presentation was the first time Hamilton had spoken in a media setting since Abu Dhabi.

He will face the press again later in the day, where he will face more questions on his thoughts on Masi's departure and the agony of losing the title on the final lap.

The F1 season starts with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20. Next week the teams will conduct the first preseason test at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, between Feb 23-25.