Lewis Hamilton's retirement from F1 would be an indictment of the sport, according to Toto Wolff. The Mercedes team principal spoke about the seven-time world champion and his state of mind in an interview with Austrian publication Kronen Zeitung.
The 50-year-old Mercedes boss confirmed that Hamilton was going through "an incredibly difficult time" presently. When asked if this could lead to the 37-year-old's retirement, Wolff said:
"I really hope that we will see him again. He is the most important part of our sport. It would be an indictment of Formula 1 as a whole if the best driver decided to quit because of harebrained decisions."
The harebrained decisions Wolff spoke of were the controversial choices made by race director Michael Masi and other race stewards at the 2021 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton led the entire race and was on the cusp of winning a record eighth world title. However, a crash by Nicholas Latifi on lap 54 resulted in a Safety Car period. This allowed Max Verstappen to pit for fresher, soft tires. Hamilton was advised to stay out on older hard tires and hold onto track position.
Masi chose not to allow lapped cars to unlap on lap 56 before changing his mind a lap later. However, he only allowed five lapped cars, stuck between Hamilton and Verstappen, to get out of the way and not the whole field. Masi then chose to hastily call the Safety Car in, setting up a last-lap dash to the finish line.
These decisions left Hamilton hamstrung and Mercedes aggrieved as Verstappen romped to victory to claim his maiden world title.
Reports indicate that Hamilton's return to F1 is contingent on the results of the FIA's internal investigation into these "harebrained decisions."
"Lewis Hamilton will face a big challenge from George Russell" - Dr Helmut Marko
Lewis Hamilton will face a major challenge from new teammate George Russell at Mercedes, according to Dr Helmut Marko.
Marko is a former Austrian driver who is currently spearheading Red Bull's driver development program. He is also an advisor to the Milton Keynes-based team.
Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport, Marko had this to say about Russell's impeding arrival at Mercedes:
"(George) Russell will certainly be a bigger challenge for (Lewis) Hamilton. Just rhetorically and politically, because he’s also English."
Russell, 23, moved from Williams to replace Valtteri Bottas after reportedly signing a massive $ 6.76 million contract with Mercedes.