(Photo: AFP / Getty)
Lewis Hamilton is set for crunch talks with his Mercedes bosses, but vowed: I’ll get my title back next year.
The Brit is facing the sack after defying team orders to speed up in Sunday’s title decider in Abu Dhabi in a desperate bid to retain his crown.
But Hamilton – who could also be fined or banned for several races – has immediately targeted regaining his title from Nico Rosberg.
The three-time champ, 31, said: “I’ll be back stronger and faster than ever next year.
“The circumstances this year have not been in my favour, but I did my best and I am happy with how the season ended.
“This year has had its ups and it has definitely had its downs.
“But as much as I wanted that championship, I am so proud of my performance in Abu Dhabi.”
Hamilton’s boss Toto Wolff admitted he is deciding what to do with the driver after he twice ignored orders to increase his pace at Yas Marina as he tried to back-up Rosberg into rivals.
But the German clung on to second place behind Hamilton to clinch his first title by five points and end his team-mate’s two years of dominance.
Ex-racer Wolff flew to Malaysia with the newly-crowned champ for a sponsor’s event yesterday and any talks will be put off until he returns.
But if he opts not to rip up Hamilton’s £30million-a-year deal then Wolff may have to just let his drivers fight it out on the track next year and take the consequences.
Hamilton has a contract until the end of 2018 and though former team McLaren are keen on having him back, his best chance of a title is with the Anglo-German outfit.
But he will have a massive rebuilding job to do with many people within the 1,500-strong team feeling he let them down.
Hamilton, set for a skiing holiday, also did himself no favours by pulling out of today’s final tyre test of the season in Abu Dhabi with Mercedes forced to call up junior driver Pascal Wehrlein.
But Hamilton has won powerful backing for an excellent drive from Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who slammed Mercedes for being “naive” for thinking he would drive any other way.
Horner said: “There were only two drivers competing for the world championship. It was totally obvious he was going to do that.
“He didn’t do anything dirty, he didn’t do anything against the rules and it would be unfair to criticise Lewis for the way that he drove.”
Hamilton – who won 10 races compared to Rosberg’s nine – insists he would have won the title but for a series of mechanical failures.
But Rosberg’s dad, Keke, the 1982 champion, said: “I thought Lewis was lucky twice already, so why shouldn’t Nico be lucky once?”