Morning Chronicle - 'I'm back': Hamilton ends social media exile

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'I'm back': Hamilton ends social media exile
'I'm back': Hamilton ends social media exile

'I'm back': Hamilton ends social media exile

Lewis Hamilton ended his social media exile on Saturday amid ongoing speculation about the Mercedes driver's Formula One future.

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Hamilton has been absent from social media since he was controversially denied a record eighth world title in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.

The 37-year-old was pipped to the crown by Max Verstappen in a hotly-debated conclusion to the Formula One season.

With talk that he is considering quitting the sport still widespread, Hamilton, who is contracted to Mercedes until 2023, gave his first public comment for 56 days.

Taking to Twitter and Instagram, Hamilton posted a picture of himself smiling at the Grand Canyon alongside the caption "I've been gone. Now I'm back!"

What that cryptic comment means for Hamilton's future in Formula One remains to be seen.

Hamilton was cruising to the title in Abu Dhabi until the aftermath of a crash elsewhere on the track led to a final lap shoot-out between the British star and Verstappen.

Verstappen, driving on fresh tyres, overtook Hamilton to win his maiden world title in the most dramatic fashion.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff hinted it was possible Hamilton might walk away when he said his driver was "disillusioned".

Race director Michael Masi received criticism for allowing the one-lap finish, but an FIA inquiry will not be made public until the eve of the 2022 season opener in Bahrain in March.

Mercedes will launch its first car of F1's revamped technical era at Silverstone on February 18, five days before the first winter test in Barcelona.

Hamilton, who is level with Michael Schumacher on seven world titles, is expected to be on site for the launch, alongside new team-mate George Russell.