F1 chiefs rally round Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes over Michael Masi sacking

Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing

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Mercedes icon Lewis Hamilton will not decide on his future in Formula One until he sees the results of an inquiry into the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Red Bull star Max Verstappen secured a maiden world title in dramatic and controversial circumstances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after he and title rival Hamilton went into the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit tied on points.

The Dutchman passed the seven-time world champion – who had dominated for much of the race – on the final lap of the season as a late Safety Car and tyre change swung momentum in his favour. 

Mercedes’ fury was largely aimed at FIA race director Michael Masi after he decided to not allow cars to unlap themselves, as is tradition, only to change his mind to set up the final lap showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen.

The Silver Arrows withdrew their appeal against the result after the FIA pledged an investigation into the events surrounding the Safety Car procedures.

Mercedes reportedly dropped their appeal against the results of the race after agreeing a deal with the FIA, which said both Masi and FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis would be removed from their posts ahead of the 2022 season.

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Wolff said last month that Mercedes would ‘hold the FIA to account’.

With the 2022 season on the horizon – the first season in the new era of regulations – Brit superstar Hamilton may not be on the grid as he is reportedly ‘disillusioned’ with the sport.

Hamilton and Mercedes team members did not conduct any other media interviews after the season finale. The 37-year-old is yet to post on his social media accounts since the events of December 12.

The FIA has launched an inquiry into the events that took place last month at Yas Marina and is aware of Hamilton’s unhappiness.

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The body must win back the seven-time champion’s confidence, which is reportedly a difficult task. 

Just days after his defeat by Verstappen, Hamilton was awarded his knighthood at Windsor Castle. He also attended Mercedes’ celebrations at their headquarters following their record-extending eighth successive constructors’ title. 

New FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who succeeded Jean Todt in December, dismissed suggestions Hamilton would retire ahead of the new season. 

“No, I don’t think he will [quit],” Ben Sulayem told reporters. “I’ll ask your question, did Lewis declare that he’s not going to race? No. Exactly. Being a driver, you declare yourself, you don’t let the rumours [talk].

“I’m confident that Lewis [will return]. Lewis is a big part of motorsport, and of course of Formula 1, the new era [can add to] Lewis’s wins and achievements, and also Verstappen is there.

“I am very confident that you will see a very challenging Formula 1 season next year.”

The 60-year-old also outlined aims to look into F1’s regulations in order to avoid a repeat to the conclusion in Abu Dhabi.

The 23-race 2022 campaign begins on March 18-20, with winter testing for the all-new generation of cars underway from February 23.

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