F1 news: FIA release statement with fears Lewis Hamilton could retire before season opener

Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing

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Almost a month has passed since the sensational finale to the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi, yet we are still yet to discover whether or not Lewis Hamilton will be participating in the 2022 campaign. The seven-time title winning Brit has maintained a radio silence on social media since the controversial events of that fateful day in the middle east.   

And this has done little to play down the rumours suggesting that he may be ready to call it a day in the sport, with speculation continuing to build.

With the first race of the new season due to take place in Bahrain on March 20, time is running out, and Mercedes will need to know sooner rather than later if they need to start planning for life without the Stevenage-born star.

Elsewhere, the likes of Max Verstappen at Red Bull will be watching the situation with interest, with the Dutchman no doubt keen to know if he will be locking horns with his rival once more.

This could be a pivotal week in Hamilton’s final decision, and fans around the world will be desperate to know one way or the other if they will ever see their hero out on the track again.

Follow all the updates from the F1 world throughout the day with Express Sport right here…

FIA statement

The FIA have released a statement confirming their investigation into the events at the Yas Marina Circuit are underway.

Mercedes were left furious at FIA racing director Michael Masi for his controversial decisions in the final stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton hasn’t spoken publicly since the race with growing fears that he could walk away from the sport.

And the FIA have now confirmed the investigation is underway, with a decision to be made in March.

FULL STORY HERE

Mercedes ‘have not identified Hamilton replacement’

Mercedes have reportedly not yet created a serious list of potential replacements for Lewis Hamilton should the seven-time world champion abruptly retire from Formula One. 

It now appears likely that Hamilton will continue to race, particularly as the crushing defeat in Abu Dhabi will likely spur him on as he pushes for a record eighth world title in 2022. 

And it is reported by the Daily Mail that Mercedes are yet to conjure up a list of potential replacements should the 37-year-old opt to walk away, in an apparent hint that the Brackley-based outfit expect him to stay on.

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New F1 poll

We have a brand new poll ready for you to take part in.

The questions this time revolve around the man of the moment: Michael Masi.

Sainz sends fighting message

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr has sent a warning shot to Mercedes and Red Bull ahead of the new season with a strong fighting message to Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen as the Spaniard insists he’s 100% ready to challenge the top two teams.

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When asked if he would be ready for a title fight in 2022, Saiz replied: “Yes, 100 per cent. Especially… this second half of the season has given me the right confidence with the car, the right confidence with the team, to know I’m ready for whatever comes next year.

“That combined with the amount of hard work we are putting into the 2022 project has put me into the right mindset.”

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McClaren boss weighs in on Masi

McLaren boss Zak Brown has called on the FIA to review a number of regulations in Formula One to avoid a repeat of the situation at Abu Dhabi in December.

The end of the race at Yas Marina has stirred up a hornet’s nest between teams and the FIA, specifically Mercedes, after the race director Michael Masi made a decision under the safety car that determined who won the Drivers’ Championship.

“I think everyone was pretty confused,” Brown told RACER about Abu Dhabi. “Obviously there were winners and losers in it.

“There were enough people disgruntled throughout the year that we need to look at the rules. And keep in mind that it’s the teams who make most of these rules.

“So as you’ve heard me bang on about, I’d continue to like to see less influence from the teams, because we’re the ones who developed half of these rules.”

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Express readers have say

Express Sport readers widely expect Lewis Hamilton to remain in Formula One for the 2022 season rather than retire.

A huge 72 per cent said they think Mercedes’ Hamilton will race in 2022, with 16 per cent saying they don’t think he will and 12 per cent unsure.

GET THE FULL RESULTS HERE

FIA ‘torn’ on Masi decision

The FIA are said to be torn on a decision regarding FIA race director Michael Masi as Mercedes are reportedly putting pressure on the governing body to sack the Australian after a controversial end to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

 Lewis Hamilton was on course to win an eighth world title when Masi changed the course of the future with a dubious decision during the race under a safety car period, with the FIA now desperate to repair the integrity of the championship.

According to the Daily Mail, boss Toto Wolff is due to speak to the new FIA president on Friday to discuss the end of the season incident, a meeting that could decide Hamilton’s future in Formula One.

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Bottas’ Hamilton support

Former Mercedes star Valtteri Bottas has issued a defiant show of support to Lewis Hamilton after Red Bull boss Helmut Marko suggested the Brit leads a ‘media-loving life’.

When asked what he learned from his time competing and working with the seven-time world champion, Bottas spoke positively.

“I’ve been in a position that I’ve got to know Lewis pretty well as a human being as well, not just a Formula 1 champion, and learned that he fully deserves everything he achieved,” Bottas told GPFans.

“Obviously, his lifestyle is also different in a way that, he might be in New York just a day before the race weekend, whatever, doing other things.

“But when he is in his working mode and in this Formula 1 mode, he’s never leaving any stone unturned and he’s always pushing the team a lot.

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Hamilton compared to Rosberg

Former Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has compared Lewis Hamilton’s retirement decision to his ex Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg’s own decision to walk away from the sport.

When asked if Hamilton will return to F1, Villeneuve suggested the scenario is similar to Rosberg’s call to abruptly retire in 2016 after winning the world title.

“Who knows? Nobody expected Nico Rosberg to not come back,” the 1997 world champion told reporters.

“Suddenly he woke up one morning and told everyone he wasnt passionate about racing anymore. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Lewis, but who knows?”

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FIA president sends Hamilton text

New FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has messaged Lewis Hamilton in a bid to resolve the star’s future in F1.

Speculation is mounting that Hamilton, 37, may yet retire from the sport following the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December – a race which ultimately cost him the drivers’ title.

The FIA have now begun a full inquiry into what happened in Abu Dhabi, and have vowed to present all conclusions to teams by February 3 – the date of the next World Motorsport Council meeting.

“Mohammed Ben Sulayem has come in and made it a mater of urgency that this gets sorted out,” reported Craig Slater, of Sky Sports F1.

“He is taking personal involvement himself, he has texted Lewis Hamilton for example, and he wants to get this done properly as soon as it can be done.”

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FIA’s ‘difficult position’

The FIA kicked off their Abu Dhabi Grand Prix investigation on Monday and there is a lot of pressure on race director Michael Masi, who made the controversial call that enabled Max Verstappen to win the world title.

Many have called for the organisation to axe Masi following his call.

But the BBC claim the FIA are in a ‘difficult position’ because there is a serious lack of suitable replacements.

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Wolff to make explosive demand

Toto Wolff will demand the FIA sack Formula One race director Michael Masi when meeting new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem on Friday.

In December, Masi played a central role in the polemical conclusion of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi, coming under heavy fire as a result.

Since his heartbreaking defeat, Lewis Hamilton has remained silent on his Mercedes future and, now 37, has been touted to retire.

But Sportsmail report Masi’s dismissal, on top of a broader reform in the FIA, will be key to his decision to stay on the track – and they claim if these things happen, Hamilton will return for the 2022 season.

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