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Lewis Hamilton retirement: Brit's 'anger', Toto Wolff Mercedes meeting, Michael Masi sack

Daily Express logo Daily Express 23/01/2022 Charlie Malam

Lewis Hamilton: Will he? Won't he? The Mercedes driver's future in Formula One is a hot topic of conversation as the 2022 season creeps closer, with the first few car launches now less than a month away. An FIA investigation into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be key to the seven-time world champion's decision on whether he retires or not but decisions made as a result will not be announced until March, just two days before the Bahrain Grand Prix, meaning the situation remains rather clouded. Express Sport recaps on some of the biggest stories in recent weeks as uncertainty continues over what decision Hamilton will make.

FIA statement

F1's governing body confirmed they had begun a "detailed analysis" into last season's contentious finale in mid-January, but say that results will not be made public for some time.

The FIA wrote: "The FIA President launched a consultation with all F1 teams on various issues, including this one. On January 19, an item on the agenda of the Sporting Advisory Committee will be dedicated to the use of the Safety Car. The following stage will be a shared discussion with all F1 drivers.

"The outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 Commission in February and final decisions will be announced at the World Motor Sport Council in Bahrain on 18 March.

"FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has asked Secretary General Sport and recently appointed Single-Seater Director Peter Bayer for proposals to review and optimise the organisation of the FIA F1 structure for the 2022 season."

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Lewis Hamilton retirement: Brit's 'anger', Toto Wolff Mercedes meeting, Michael Masi sack © GETTY Lewis Hamilton retirement: Brit's 'anger', Toto Wolff Mercedes meeting, Michael Masi sack

Mercedes 'agree Masi sack deal' as Wolff furious

The FIA's statement followed reports that Hamilton's future will be contingent on the result of the inquiry. The BBC went as far to suggest Mercedes had agreed a quid pro quo deal with the FIA for race director Michael Masi and Nikolas Tombazis sacked ahead of the 2022 season.

Mercedes have denied such suggestions with the Silver Arrows saying they simply want "appropriate action" to be taken.

More recently, the Daily Mail claimed that a one-hour meeting was held between the new president of the FIA Muhammed Ben Sulayem and F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali.

The same report suggests some senior FIA figures believe that Masi could keep his role as part of a restructuring process that would see the race director offered a greater support network.

And Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, has said: "It would be a disgrace for the whole of F1 if the best driver decided to retire because of outrageous decisions."

Hamilton's silence continues

Amid rumours over whether or not he will retire, Hamilton has still yet to post on social media since Abu Dhabi.

The 37-year-old - who unfollowed everyone on his Instagram account - has not posted since celebrating his P2 in qualifying at Yas Marina on December 11.

Mercedes boss Wolff explained last month: "The silence is there, of course, because he simply lacks words as well."

Wolff confirms meeting

Wolff has confirmed he plans to sit down and discuss Hamilton's future with the Mercedes driver well in advance of the new season.

Discussions will surely be pivotal to whether or not Hamilton comes back to F1 this year.

The Briton is under contract until the end of 2023 and Wolff said to Kronen Zeitung: "It's incredibly difficult for him until he finds the path for him between right and wrong. He just needs time.

"At the latest, we will meet again in February, and it will not be to drink tequila. I had enough of that in Abu Dhabi."

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Lewis Hamilton retirement: Brit's 'anger', Toto Wolff Mercedes meeting, Michael Masi sack © GETTY Lewis Hamilton retirement: Brit's 'anger', Toto Wolff Mercedes meeting, Michael Masi sack

Hamilton's 'anger' detailed by McLaren boss

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown admits he would not be surprised were Hamilton to walk away from F1 before the new season after Max Verstappen's controversial triumph.

"I wouldn't be shocked if he stopped, so no one should take for granted that he is coming back," Brown said.

"We should not discount or not recognise his frustration, his anger. Maybe he has not made a decision and what he is doing is taking time to make that decision to make sure.

"Because once it's made, it's made, I don't think we should rule it out or make light of it.

"They [the FIA] need to show they have taken action to make sure it doesn't happen again but I don't think this was a malicious decision.

"For those who may have the view that the sport is corrupt, I don't agree. Potentially a different decision could have been made but I want to wait to see what the FIA comes out with."

Lewis Hamilton retirement: Brit's 'anger', Toto Wolff Mercedes meeting, Michael Masi sack © EXPRESS SPORT Lewis Hamilton retirement: Brit's 'anger', Toto Wolff Mercedes meeting, Michael Masi sack

Hamilton 'will be back'

Sky Sports F1 duo Martin Brundle and Damon Hill have both backed Hamilton to return to the grid in the new season.

Speaking on Abu Dhabi: One Month On, Brundle said: "Absolutely not [Hamilton will not quit], I don't buy any of it to be honest. I'm sure Toto has been asked by Lewis, 'What are you doing about this?'

"But Formula One is fantastically successful for the Mercedes-Benz brand, while Lewis is 37 years old and we know he's driving at his peak, incredibly determined and competitive. He'll be back."

Hill added: "I wanted to win a championship. Lewis has already won seven, it's a bit different. He might just think I've done all I can do.

"But I'm sure that eighth title is just too tempting, I'm sure he'll want to come back and have it and put all this to rest."

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