Lewis Hamilton: 2022 was 'challenging in ways that I wasn't expecting' at Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton says 2022 was the "toughest" yet most "strengthening" season experienced in his time at Mercedes.

Having debuted with the team in 2013, since 2014 Hamilton had been in a Mercedes challenger mostly dominating the competition, at worst very much in the thick of the action, but that streak ended in 2022.

The Silver Arrows were put on the back foot by Formula 1's overhauled Technical Regulations, Hamilton finishing a Formula 1 season without a victory for the first time in his career.

"It's been a very hard year for everyone," Hamilton reflected during an in-house Mercedes interview.

"For me, it's been challenging in ways that I wasn't expecting, but I am incredibly grateful for that."

The reason for this gratitude is that Hamilton believes he has grown as a person in a way not comparable to most seasons.

"I have felt more growth this year as a man, in terms of internal strength, than I have in many other years," he affirmed.

Despite the eight Constructors' titles and seven Drivers' titles achieved by Mercedes since 2014, team boss Toto Wolff actually looks at 2022 as the key year for the Mercedes team, as they are forced to learn and improve from the difficulties encountered.

Hamilton does believe this was the most difficult season in his time at Mercedes, but does not see that as a negative.

"If you look back at the team's entire history, it was here a long time before Toto and I joined and they had some really difficult years," said Hamilton. "Some of the people have been here for over 20 years and really been through the thick of it.

"I would say for our current team, in terms of the last 10 years, this has been the toughest year for everyone along with the most strengthening. There has been so much resistance, so much we have been up against, and I am thankful that we have.

"There are many people working here, along with many new people in the team, and this experience has been good for them too. When we win, there is a different gratitude now because it happened so often before."

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton poised to return to title battle in 2023

While Mercedes and Hamilton are clearly taking the lessons of 2022 as a positive, it is safe to say that neither team nor driver want to find next season becoming a repeat of this one just gone, but it would be a surprise if it did.

As the 2022 campaign went on, it was clear that Mercedes were gaining a firmer understanding of how to unlock the performance from their W13, their main issue being consistency.

That stuck right until the end of the season, evidenced by their one-two finish in Brazil, to then being off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari again on the following weekend in Abu Dhabi.

But the ultimate performance high which Mercedes were capable of grew stronger, and with a season of learning and a chance to return to the drawing board, all signs point towards Mercedes returning as a 2023 title contender, allowing Hamilton to take another shot at that record eighth Drivers' title.

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