Formula 1: Jenson Button on rumours of Lewis Hamilton retiring
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Lewis Hamilton’s future in Formula 1 has been placed in jeopardy as Mercedes admitted they are unsure how well the car will perform in 2022. It was suggested by former world champion Mika Hakkinen that if the Silver Arrows failed to provide him with a contending car, the Brit could opt to retire.
The seven-time world champion’s future in the sport is incredibly murky following the controversial finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claim a maiden world title.
The Dutchman passed the seven-time world champion – who had dominated for much of the race – on the final lap as a late Safety Car and tyre change swung momentum in his favour.
The controversial ending saw Mercedes lodge two protests that were quickly dismissed by the FIA, and the Silver Arrows withdrew their appeal.
For the 2022 season, radical changes are set to shake up the sport.
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Aerodynamics are being utilised underneath the top-face to try and generate cleaner airflow, which would allow for closer racing.
The re-defined car designs could see a massive shake-up in the grid order, and it is a mystery to see who will come out on top.
Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott admitted there is no way of knowing what his team’s performance will be like in the season ahead.
“When you get a new set of regulations, it is a challenge, a challenge to start from scratch,” he explained.
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“In most years, when you have got carry over regulations, you have got a pretty good idea of what good looks like.
“You know what sort of gains you need to make from the previous year’s car and you can work on a direction of fine-tuning and finding all those incremental gains that can make you quicker.”
However, Elliott conceded that teams do not know what the limit is in terms of development, which is an exciting time for engineers around the grid.
“You don’t know where you can get to and that is exciting for engineers,” Elliott added.
“It is an exciting challenge to try and work out what the opportunity might be and to explore all of those opportunities and try and do that in a better way than the opposition does.”
Originally intended for the 2021 season, the regulations were delayed a year due to Covid.
The regulations are aimed at reducing ‘following car distance’ by removing ‘dirty air’ that leading cars leave in their wake, making overtaking moves more difficult due to the turbulent air flow.
Cars will differ quite substantially from their predecessors despite power units essentially being unchanged, as sidepods, airboxes, brake ducts, underbodies and both front and rear wings are set to be redesigned.
The addition of 18-inch wheels will also massively affect the cars, both visually and technically.
The 23-race 2022 campaign begins in Bahrain on March 20, with winter testing for the all-new generation of cars underway from February 23.
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