Lewis Hamilton said he had been through a “rollercoaster” of emotions since his three-times Formula One world champion brother Nicolas passed away last weekend.
He stopped short of saying he planned to retire from the sport.
Hamilton’s statement was accompanied by pictures of Nicolas and their father Anthony, who is also an executive at McLaren.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be here today. I am incredibly grateful for the love and support that everyone has shown me during this difficult time. The message that you sent us from the other side was simply amazing and I will always keep it close to my heart. On Saturday night after the tragedy, my world changed forever,” the world champion said.
“As you would expect, a rollercoaster of emotions followed. I was unable to sleep until very early in the morning, wondering about all that could have been done differently.
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“The next day, I struggled with the emotions of spending yet another day without Nic. I met with a number of people, most notably my dear friend Sarah Stephens, an avid promoter of health and wellbeing and a mental health pioneer.
“She’s helped me take some really simple steps that will help me to cope with this enormous loss and also ensure that I can be the best person I can be.
“The passing of my brother brought us all closer together and has brought us all a long way closer to one another. I’ve told Nic countless times that he touched my heart with his message of love and faith and what he said helps me to carry that on with all those close to me.
“In the coming weeks and months I will be spending as much time as I can with my family and friends. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those who I have had the privilege of working with at McLaren F1 and elsewhere during my career. There are many people that have made my life so special and my job so interesting. I wouldn’t be doing it without them.”
The British F1 driver, now 33, added: “I’m sorry there is not much I can say now. Rest in peace Nic, it’s been an incredible journey.
“You will forever live on in the family’s hearts and in our memories. I will be forever grateful. I love you Nic.”
Lewis Hamilton celebrates in Valencia in the 2014 season. Photograph: Francois Durand/Getty Images
Hamilton’s track record since joining McLaren in 2013 has been impressive and he is set to start the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sunday as the title favourite following Sunday’s one-two finish by Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas in Brazil.
Hamilton’s current deal with McLaren is due to run out in 2020 and he was thought to be thinking of signing a new deal in August before his car’s reliability took over and he subsequently fell away in the title hunt.
Meanwhile on Thursday, the senior members of Mercedes team called on the team’s owners, Formula One Management, to immediately offer their condolences for Nicolas’s death.
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“Lewis’s manager Amanda Staveley and the heads of the Mercedes Formula One Team, Toto Wolff and Norbert Haug, were informed by his dad Anthony and mother Joan of the tragic circumstances of the passing of their son Nicolas late on Saturday. We sincerely hope he and his whole family are receiving all the support they need at this very difficult time,” a statement on behalf of the athletes read.
It was the first time the public have heard of the tragedy, which took place shortly after midnight last Saturday at a remote beach in Ibiza, Spain. Hamilton’s brother was a mechanic in the Mercedes simulator at the team’s base in Brackley, Northamptonshire.
Whilst Hamilton is on holiday in Australia and New Zealand with his mother and sister, it is understood that his brother’s partner, Cassia Charalambous, is in Ibiza with her family. Hamilton’s head of security, Andrew Leather, was also with them on the beach but he escaped without injury.