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Is Lewis Hamilton F1 Exist Talk Real, Threat or Tactics?…The Formula 1 Legend Finally Gives Verdict On His Future

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The silence on Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 future has been deafening since Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff described him as “disillusioned” in the wake of last month’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix controversy.

But with fresh reports emerging that Hamilton has yet to make a decision about his continuing participation in F1 pending the outcome of the FIA’s review of events in the 2021 season finale, the obvious conclusion is that Mercedes feels pressure needs to be kept on the FIA.

 

 

When Mercedes dropped its appeal against the stewards’ decision to reject its Abu Dhabi protest, which was based on two procedural infringements related to letting only five lapped cars to unlap themselves and the timing of the restart, it did so on the basis that the FIA was taking action.

Initially, this action was the preparation of a report which, according to a statement issued by the FIA after last month’s World Motor Sport Council meeting, then-FIA president Jean Todt proposed should be followed by “a detailed analysis and clarification exercise for the future with all relevant parties will now take place.” That could only be welcomed as a positive step given the regulations were not correctly applied in Abu Dhabi.

 

 

But that same statement also laid out that FIA’s view that the use of the safety car and the communications between the race direction team and F1 teams “have notably generated significant misunderstanding and reactions from Formula 1 teams, drivers and fans, an argument that is currently tarnishing the image” of the championship and impacting the “due celebration” of Max Verstappen’s drivers’ title and Mercedes’ constructors’ title.

In the context of the upcoming analysis of Abu Dhabi and F1’s regulations, this might almost be described as prejudicial and was, at best, spectacularly tone deaf.

The FIA also promised that “any identified meaningful feedback and conclusions be made before the beginning of the 2022 season”, which is perfectly reasonable.

That happened on 15 December, so almost a month ago. Since then, the FIA has said nothing meaningful beyond incoming president Mohammed Ben Sulayem saying he had reached out to Hamilton but not had a response and backing the process that had been launched.

 

 

Nobody could realistically expect this process to be complete by now. However, the FIA has offered no more details about the analysis, who is conducting it and what the timeline is beyond the declaration that learnings will be implemented before the new season starts. Transparency is essential if the FIA is to rebuild the credibility it has lost.

Given the scale of the controversy, that is an extraordinary head-in-the-sand approach that reflects the usual tactic of most organisations in such situations: to close ranks.

To better understand the situation with Hamilton, we can look back to what Wolff said last month when talking about the reasons for Mercedes dropping its appeal.

“We expect the commission to not only come up with words but actually good actions and we will hold them accountable for the actions because we cannot continue in a sport that is meant to be sport followed by entertainment and not the other way around,” said Wolff.

“We are held ransom by ad hoc decisions, in every field – technical, sport – and therefore there needs to be clear measures in place for the start of the season so every driver, every team and the fans understand what’s on and what is not on.”

 

 

Mercedes is determined to see tangible action. At the bare minimum it needs to be convinced that the analysis the FIA has undertaken is a serious one – ideally with a public outlining of the how and why of the process laid out. That’s the first bar that the FIA always had to clear and it does not appear to have done so.

Mercedes also wants to see other actions taken. It’s been clear since Abu Dhabi that Michael Masi’s position as race director was untenable, so it’s no surprise that his replacement is widely considered to be among the demands made by Mercedes.

It has also been suggested that Mercedes also wants to see FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis go.

 

 

This is plausible given the team’s anger about the four small but significant aerodynamic rule changes that Mercedes feels were brought in for 2021 to curb its dominance. That’s one of the “ad hoc” decisions Wolff referred to.

It’s difficult for a competitor to hold a governing body accountable, so if you put yourself in Wolff’s position, what weapons do you have?

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