Hamilton delays retirement decision with lengthy FIA Abu Dhabi probe expected

Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton will not make a decision on his Formula 1 future until the results of the FIA probe are revealed.

The FIA are expected to finish their review of the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix until the end of the next month at the latest.

Red Bull star Max Verstappen secured a maiden world title in dramatic and controversial circumstances after the Dutchman overtook Hamilton – who dominated throughout the race and led by 11 seconds – following a late safety car procedure, which swung the momentum in his favour.

Mercedes were left furious with FIA race director Michael Masi after he decided to not allow cars to unlap themselves, as is tradition, only to change his mind to set up the final lap showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen.

According to a 'senior source', Mercedes dropped their formal appeal against the result of the race after agreeing a deal with the FIA, which would see Masi and FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis get sacked.

The formal investigation of the inquiry began on Monday, according to Sky Sports . The inquiry unit reportedly want to interview all individuals involved in the controversy, including Masi, stewards, drivers and team representatives.

The FIA's secretary general of motor sport, Peter Bayer, is leading the inquiry with new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem ‘taking a personal involvement in the review’. Sulayem, who succeeded Jean Todt in December, is dealing with the matter urgently.

Hamilton, a seven-time world champion and F1 icon, will wait for the results of the investigation into the Abu Dhabi controversy before deciding on his future. The 27-year-old is reportedly ‘disillusioned’ with the sport following the incident.

Team principal Toto Wolff said last month that Mercedes would ‘hold the FIA to account’. Wolff is set to meet with Sulayem on Friday to discuss the events of the 2021 championship finale in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton and Mercedes team members did not conduct any other media interviews after the season. The Brit, who was knighted at Windsor Castle following the season, is yet to post on his social media accounts since the events of 12 December 2021.

Asked about whether Hamilton will retire ahead of the 2022 campaign, Ben Sulayem said: “No, I don't think he will [quit].

“I’ll ask your question, did Lewis declare that he's not going to race? No. Exactly. Being a driver, you declare yourself, you don't let the rumours [talk].

“I’m confident that Lewis [will return]. Lewis is a big part of motorsport, and of course of Formula 1, the new era [can add to] Lewis's wins and achievements, and also Verstappen is there.

“I am very confident that you will see a very challenging Formula 1 season next year.”

The 23-race 2022 campaign begins on March 18-20 in Bahrain, with winter testing for the all-new generation of cars underway from February 23.

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