Lewis Hamilton’s future in F1 reportedly depends upon the FIA’s ruling on the Abu Dhabi controversy. The seven-time world champion has remained silent since the season’s conclusion and has reportedly not told Mercedes whether he plans to return in 2022.
Speaking at a recent interview with Sky Sports, F1 pundit Craig Slater said:
"What I can say about Lewis Hamilton and his return is this: how he gets over that disappointment is up to the FIA and its duty to investigate the events of those final laps. They have to come up with results, he wants something tangible to see the results of the investigation, and as soon as possible."
"At this point, I can tell you that it is still unclear 69 days prior to the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix. I understand from important sources around Lewis Hamilton that it is still not clear whether he will return for the first race of the coming season."
Lewis Hamilton lost his bid for a record-breaking eighth world title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. A controversial safety car restart on the last lap of the race allowed title rival Max Verstappen to overtake him for the win. The Brit was heard voicing his frustration towards race control on his team radio, saying that the race was being “manipulated”.
Since Abu Dhabi, Hamilton has only appeared in public twice—to receive his knighthood and to celebrate Mercedes’ eighth consecutive constructors' title. He has stayed silent on social media.
Hamilton’s silence has fuelled speculation and rumors suggesting that the multiple world champion might be considering retirement. Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone put speculation into overdrive when he claimed that Hamilton won’t be returning in 2022.
Meanwhile, the FIA has defended the race director’s actions in Abu Dhabi. However, they have nevertheless opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident. Teams including Mercedes and Red Bull have urged the FIA to make the sporting regulations clearer and with no room for interpretation during the off-season.
Lewis Hamilton reportedly hinted former teammate Jenson Button on his future in F1
While Lewis Hamilton graciously participated in the podium ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he reportedly refused to interact with anybody else soon after.
However, Hamilton reportedly spoke with Jenson Button about his future in F1, according to Craig Slater. Speaking to Sky Sports, Slater said:
"Only to Jenson Button he said, 'about next year, we'll see'. I've spoken expecting him to come back to win that eighth title, but at the same time they told me that the loss, and especially the way, hit him very hard in the following days."
In Parc Ferme, however, Hamilton was dignified in the face of the loss. He graciously congratulated newly-crowned world champion Max Verstappen. But after the podium celebrations, Hamilton reportedly left the paddock without interacting with anyone, including the media.
In a video shared on social media, Hamilton is seen solemnly walking away from the paddock and refusing to acknowledge a concerned Carlos Sainz Jr.