The Rumors Are Flying, The Hints Are Dropping, And Hamilton Himself Remains Silent
Even before Abu Dhabi, Formula One insiders and fans alike whispered. Would legendary Mercedes-AMG driver Lewis Hamilton call it quits during the off-season?
Hamilton has had an incredible run in Formula One racing. Losing a close race and a world championship, as a result, is no reason to give up or stop racing.
Adoring race fans want to see the number forty-four compete next year. They want to see Hamilton in the cockpit.
Hamilton remains tied with Michael Schumacher with seven WDC titles. A win at Abu Dhabi would have the Mercedes AMG driver going out on top. And an eighth F1 World Driving Championship.
Hamilton had a record-setting year in 2021. We watched Lewis pass 100 career F1 Race wins, surpass the 100 career pole position mark, and win eight races. His only DNF was at the Italian GP. Monza saw Ricciardo and Norris finish one-two in the McLarens. Hamilton managed to finish every race in the top five.
Hamilton and Verstappen entered the last race with 369.5 points each. Hamilton pressed his case with a strong performance and had the upper hand through most of the race.
Latifi hit the wall late - the incident triggered chaos and controversy. A virtual safety car gave the Red Bull team a chance to dip in for new tires. A huge gamble. Verstappen had nothing to lose.
Race director Masi allowed lapped cars to pass the leaders near the very end of the race. The hungry Verstappen pulled next to Hamilton. A tense two minutes remained in the season. A one-lap sprint for the 2021 World Driving Championship was on.
Hamilton started the last lap in the lead. Verstappen made the pass moments later and dashed to the checkered flag.
Verstappen was World Champion. Elation for the Red Bull team and Verstappen. Shock and disbelief on the Mercedes AMG side.
Hamilton has not spoken about his future in F1 other than a brief post-race interview. Hamilton and Wolff skipped the season-end gala in Paris.
Mercedes AMG boss Toto Wolff worked to overturn the race result. Masi's decision to allow cars to unlap themselves on the last lap sparked controversy. Wolff later pulled his legal action. The race win and WDC belonged to Verstappen.
According to the Irish Sun, Wolff worked for two weeks to overturn the race result. Wolff confirmed a week later that the team would pull their legal threat altogether. Wolff said they would put their faith into the sport's governing body, the FIA, to investigate the actions of the stewards and race director, Michael Masi.
Mercedes extended Hamilton's contract to two more years until the end of the 2023 season. The team remains in contact with the driver. Does this imply that Hamilton is not inclined to quit?
Until Hamilton announces otherwise, fans will expect Lewis to compete.
According to motorsport.com, Hamilton has notified Mercedes of his decision to stay in Formula One until 2023. In July of this year, the 36-year-old had signed a contract extension to remain with Mercedes for another two years.
With the 2022 F1 season only weeks away, the new season brings low-profile tires, ground effects, and aerodynamic changes. These changes encourage closer racing and more overtaking. The new aerodynamics will clean up the trail of dirty air. Less turbulence will allow cars to run closer together and enhance overtaking.
A planet full of Formula One fans can't wait to see Lewis head to turn one at the Bahrain Grand Prix.