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Hamilton Mulling Over Formula One Return As FiA Inexplicably Remains Mute


Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has yet to decide whether he will return to the world’s foremost racing series as neither the FiA – Formula 1’s governing body – nor the Michael Masi, race director of the F1 season-ending 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, have made official statements regarding the race where Masi incorrectly applied race rules that wound up giving a significant advantage to Hamilton’s Red Bull rival, Max Verstappen, and effectively gifted Verstappen the race win and F1 title.

Hamilton is reported to be considering not returning to F1 as the FiA inexplicably continues to drag their feet about both making an official statement regarding the race and race director as well as issues going forward into the 2022 season.

Hamilton’s team – Mercedes – is said to be aligned with Hamilton on the issue and are in a powerful position to get some appropriate action from the FiA as Mercedes is an engine supplier to nearly half the F1 field.

So far, the only action the FIA has taken is to announce – one month ago – an inquiry into the race but has yet to issue any further statements since that time. While new FiA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem was only elected to that position in the next week after the race, there has still been no official statements released regarding the race in the three additional weeks since his election.

The first of two pre-season tests begins in late February with the opening race currently scheduled to occur in Bahrain on March 20, 2022.

Hamilton had dominated and was well in front of Verstappen in the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and was on clear course to win a record-breaking eighth F1 world drivers’ title when Williams’ Nicholas Latifi crashed with five laps to go – sending out the safety car.

As he was allowed to do, Verstappen pitted for fresh soft compound tires while Mercedes elected to keep Hamilton out on the track in his worn hard compound tires, confident that a proper application of the rules would either result in the end of the race under a caution or Verstappen to be stuck behind lapped cars on a possible final lap restart before the checkered flag.

Neither occurred as Masi went rogue and took matters into his own hands, failing to apply the rules correctly, by arbitrarily allowing only some of the lapped cars in between the leaders to un-lap themselves – specifically, sending the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen through so they were not interfering with Verstappen – yet leaving all other lapped cars in place.

Then, Masi ignored a rule that dictates that the race restarts at the end of the following lap after the lapped cars have been removed, and restarted it a lap early – that move meant that lap was the last racing lap, and benefited Verstappen greatly as he used the extra grip of his fresh tires to pass Hamilton on his older tires, to “win” the race.

Mercedes withdrew their initial appeal of the race after receiving assurances from the FiA that there would be an inquiry into both the race and race director – but so far, no official statements have been issued by either the FiA or Masi after nearly a month of inaction, leading to Hamilton’s and Mercedes’ potential decision hanging in the balance.

“It’s not only a decision to change the race director; the whole system of decision-making needs to be improved,” said Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff.

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