Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing
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Mercedes could technically sue Lewis Hamilton for breach of his contract if he retires and there is no break clause in his deal, it has been dramatically claimed. However, it has also been made clear there is very little likelihood of the Formula One constructors actually taking the Briton to court.
Hamilton’s future in F1 remains uncertain ahead of the new season, which begins on March 20. It is thought an FIA inquiry could hold the key to his decision whether to retire or not.
But the sport’s governing body have said that the results of their investigation into last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will not be made public until March 18, two days before the first race of 2022 in Bahrain.
It’s therefore unclear whether or not Hamilton will be on the grid, hoping that the FIA make changes as a result of their findings, or whether in the coming weeks he will walk away having apparently lost trust in the body’s decision-making.
The 36-year-old’s unhappiness stems from the fact race director Michael Masi appeared to ignore FIA regulations when telling the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Max Verstappen to unlap themselves, while not issuing the same order to the three lapped cars behind the Dutchman.
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The decision allowed Verstappen to easily pass Hamilton on the final lap of the race due to his fresher tyres and the victory took the Red Bull driver to the Drivers’ Championship.
Hamilton had been seeking an eighth crown to overtake Michael Schumacher and had headed into the Abu Dhabi season climax level on points with rival Verstappen after three straight race wins.
The seven-time world champion remains under contract with Mercedes until the end of the 2023 season but it has been suggested, even by team principal Toto Wolff, that he might decide to walk away following the controversial end to the previous campaign.
Now the Telegraph claim via a source that the Silver Arrows actually thought Hamilton was going to quit if he won the 2021 title.
The long-time Mercedes driver, who will enter his 10th season with the team if he stays for 2022, would presumably however need a clause in his contract in order to sever ties given he has two seasons remaining on their agreement.
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And if a clause does not exist, and Hamilton does retire, it is possible that Mercedes could sue him for walking away when he is still contracted to the team for almost another 24 months.
The report adds however that multiple sources that the Telegraph spoke to suggest there is very little chance of such a scenario coming to fruition.
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A court battle between Mercedes and Hamilton would rock the foundations of F1 given the overwhelming success the two parties have enjoyed together.
Hamilton has been a vital cog in Mercedes winning eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships and has won six of the last eight Drivers’ Championships, only missing out to team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2016 as well as Verstappen.
Wolff has made it clear he thinks it would be a “disgrace” if Hamilton retired due to a lack of hope in the FIA, telling Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung: “I really hope we see him again.
“It would be a disgrace for the whole of F1 if the best driver decided to retire because of outrageous decisions.”
While former British driver David Coulthard, who collected 13 race wins and 62 podiums with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull, suggested to the Telegraph that he expects his countryman will return.
Coulthard said: “I don’t think Abu Dhabi changes anything. Of course he would have liked to have won, and I think he was very emotional, as anyone would be under the circumstances.
“But I think the reality is the shock was probably far less for him than it would have been for Toto or the rest of the team or his fans.
“I can’t compare myself to Lewis in terms of success or speed but one thing I think I can relate to is that emotional detachment, once the moment’s gone. The euphoria of success wears off quite quickly, and the disappointment of defeat wears off quite quickly as well.”
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