The fallout of the dramatic and controversial final race in Abu Dhabi has spilt over into the new season, with race director Michael Masi belatedly stepping down.
Hamilton kept tight-lipped over the saga and initially refused to confirm he would return for the 2022 season, but the seven-time world champion cleared the air at Mercedes’ car reveal last week and insisted he does not blame Verstappen for what happened.
“This has nothing to do with Max,” Hamilton said. “Max did everything a driver would do given the opportunity he was given.
“He is a great competitor and we will go into another battle like we did last year and conduct ourselves. We will obviously grow from our races and experiences we had last year also this season. I have no issues with him.”
Hamilton welcomed the FIA’s restructuring plans, with World Endurance Championship race director Eduardo Freitas and former DTM race director Niels Wittich now set to share the race director role, with Herbie Blash, who was the former deputy to Charlie Whiting, also set to assist the pair.
“I don’t hold any grudges with anybody,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think that’s ever a good thing to carry around with you, so I move forwards.
“I don’t dwell on the past. I feel fresh, I feel centred and fully focused. I don’t have anything holding me back this year. Not that I did last year, but I’m not letting that experience be one of those.”