Lewis Hamilton is back and the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team all but confirmed his return with a social media post welcoming their seven-time world champion. The British racer's future in the sport was questioned after he disappeared from public view after his controversial loss to Max Verstappen in the 2021 title battle at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton ended his social media silence over the weekend with a simple "I've been gone. Now I'm back!" statement. It was then followed up by Mercedes, who posted an image of the Briton with a wall of messages he received from supporters and other sporting icons including American tennis great Serena Williams.

The 37-year-old also confirmed that he is preparing for the new season after he posted a video of himself while running along the Thames river in London with trainer Angela Cullen. Hamilton is expected to be present alongside new teammate George Russell when Mercedes launch their W13 challenger on Feb. 18.

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff is hoping for a clean title fight next weekend ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/POOL via AFP

It was Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff that started talk of Hamilton walking away from F1 after claiming that his driver was "disillusioned" with the sport following the events at the Yas Marina circuit on Dec. 12. The Silver Arrows team blamed FIA race director Michael Masi for stealing the title from their grasp and giving Verstappen an opportunity to challenge Hamilton on the final lap.

The FIA are holding an enquiry into Masi's actions with Mercedes making it clear that they want the Australian official relieved of his duties as race director. It was claimed that Hamilton's decision with regards to retirement will hinge on the FIA's decision, but findings of the review are only expected to be made public on Mar. 18, two days before the opening race of the 2022 season.

Hamilton is yet to speak to the press following his loss to Verstappen in Abu Dhabi - apart from his post race interview with Jenson Button. The Briton is expected to make himself available when Mercedes unveil their 2022 challenger on Feb. 18, with Hamilton and Russell scheduled to put the car through its paces at the Silverstone circuit after the launch.

Lewis Hamilton
Back in business: Lewis Hamilton will race in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Giuseppe CACACE/POOL