Lewis Hamilton initially planned to decide on his F1 future when the FIA had made it’s final call on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, reports say. The Brit was beaten to title glory by Max Verstappen in controversial circumstances last month. And he’s been silent since, leading to question marks over his Mercedes future.
Hamilton had gone into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi hoping to win a record eighth F1 Drivers’ Championship.
Yet despite leading throughout the majority of the event, Verstappen ended up securing glory for himself and Red Bull instead.
Hamilton was unhappy with the outcome in the Middle East and, ever since, has allowed retirement talk to rumble on.
And The Judge 13 claim that, according to sources close to the Brit, he’d initially wished to decide on his future when the FIA made its final decision on the Abu Dhabi GP.
However, it’s noted that the FIA ‘called that bluff’ and their decision not to publish any decisions until the Friday of the first Grand Prix of this season means Hamilton has now opted to bide his time instead.
He’s due to be back for Mercedes’ car launch on February 18 ahead of pre-season testing in Barcelona on February 23.
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And it’s stated that, if Hamilton does decide to quit F1, Mercedes have Nyck De Vries as their ‘main option’ to take over.
The Dutchman is currently the Silver Arrows’ reserve driver and his success in Formula 2, where he became champion in 2019, works well in his favour.
De Vries is also the reigning Formula E champion and a chance to compete in F1, now, could soon be on the cards.
Toto Wolff does have other options he can turn to, however.
Stoffel Vandoorne has F1 experience from his time with McLaren and he, like De Vries, has competed for Mercedes in Formula E.
He also has a place as reserve driver, too, while Mercedes could even turn to the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Esteban Ocon and Mick Schumacher as well.
For now, Hamilton has chosen to be silent.
And former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve believes Hamilton has chosen to ‘distance himself’ from Mercedes chief Wolff at the current moment in time.
“I interpret his silence as a way of distancing himself from Wolff,” Villeneuve told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“You can lose in style, instead Toto behaved like someone who plays Monopoly but, because he is losing, he throws it all upside down.
“For me, he [Wolff] has damaged his image, and Hamilton is sensitive on this issue because he is thinking about his future in America, perhaps in Hollywood.
“It depends on how good the new Mercedes is, whether it will be easy to win or not.
“Lewis is also a bit tired. He had quiet seasons after Nico Rosberg’s retirement, and he certainly doesn’t want to live a year like the last.
“He thought he could easily break records and that wasn’t the case, and then when you lose a title like that, it’s as if you had a diamond in your hand and then it’s taken away from you.
“It hurts much more than if Verstappen had led the whole race.”
Wolff himself has also fuelled talk of Hamilton possibly quitting F1 by saying: “I really hope we will see him again. He is the most important part of our sport.
“It would be an indictment for the whole of Formula 1 if the best driver decided to quit because of outrageous decisions.”
Wolff also recently added: “It will never be forgotten, because what happened to Lewis was simply wrong.
“On that day he was unbeatable, until the stewards blew a fuse and decided on three infringements of the rules. It’s hard to understand.
“It will always stick with us, even though Max Verstappen is a worthy World Champion over the course of the season. But on that day, one was better than the other – and he didn’t win.”