Lewis Hamilton has revealed he took a break from using his phone during Formula One’s summer shutdown.

Hamilton, who holds a 24-point championship lead over Sebastian Vettel ahead of the sport’s return to action in Belgium this weekend, has a combined following of more than 12 million across his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

But aside from a series of videos he posted cleaning washed-up plastic on a beach in Turkey, the 33-year-old’s social media outputs have been unusually rare.

“I chose to stay off social media this summer, and off my phone,” said Hamilton, who visited seven countries in the one-month break since his victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“I left my phone in the hotel safe, and I went several days without charging it. It was so nice, and one of the best things I’ve done.

“Earlier this year in Cuba, my phone did not work, so I couldn’t message at dinner or check social media. I started to implement that in my life. It just means that you have to find other things to occupy the time. I was on my iPad, or getting a newspaper, writing down notes or reading a book.

“I was also at my best friend’s stag do. We were all at dinner, and everyone was on the phone. I told them all to put their phones in the middle of the table.”

Hamilton’s quiet summer was in stark contrast to that of Daniel Ricciardo, who stunned Red Bull by announcing he will join Renault next year, and that of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who announced he will bring the curtain down on his 17-season career after failing to land a drive with one of the top teams.

Ricciardo’s decision to quit Red Bull drew parallels with Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013.

Like Ricciardo, Hamilton will leave a private team to join a manufacturer. Hamilton has sealed three of his four world championships with Mercedes, while McLaren have failed to win a race since he left.

“A lot of people in life are scared of change,” Hamilton added. “They get stuck in a space, but they get by, so it is cool to see Daniel willing to elevate himself, go and try something new, and learn from it, good or bad, and take the risk.”

Hamilton also moved to pay tribute to Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda following his lung transplant.

The 69-year-old three-time champion, who was integral in persuading Hamilton to join Mercedes, underwent an operation in Vienna earlier this month.

“My first reaction was that I wanted to go and see him,” said Hamilton, who has been seeking updates on the Austrian’s condition from his wife Birgit.

“I also knew that after an operation like he had they can get an infection so I couldn’t.

“The greatest thing about Niki is that he is one of the biggest fighters I know. He is fighting right now. He has got great people around him, and we are praying for a speedy recovery.”