Will Hamilton race this year?
2021 saw a titanic battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen for the F1 Drivers’ title. It had a rather unexpected and not at all satisfactory ending and it’s still up in the air whether Hamilton will try to regain his title this year.
Lewis is the favourite to do just that according to various bookies, but will he compete in the 2022 season? The testing sessions begin this month and still no firm decision has been made. What took place in Abu Dhabi seems to have had a lasting impression on the British driver.
You can hardly blame him for feeling disillusioned at what happened in that final race of the season. He was within laps of winning the race and keeping his title. Then it all went wrong, and we ended up with a one-lap shoot-out that was firmly tipped in the favour of the soon to be champion Max Verstappen.
2022 is already going to see Mercedes with a new face in their team. Valtteri Bottas has been replaced by George Russell. At this late stage, the last thing they want is to see Hamilton retire and a new driver be sought. It’d probably cost them a fair bit of money too with compensation likely to have to be paid to whichever team they get their new driver from.
No one wants to see that situation happen. We long to see Hamilton doing everything he can to beat Verstappen and win another title.
It wasn’t just that Abu Dhabi finish that was wrong in the 2021 F1 season. Those betting on the sport couldn’t have been delighted with what happened in Belgium earlier in the season. A two-lap race is not the way to decide the winner and again it went against Hamilton and helped Verstappen.
If Hamilton is going to race again in 2022, then it is clear what has to happen. The FIA are holding an inquiry into the Abu Dhabi race. New president Mohammed Ben Sulayem knows that errors were made, and the finger of blame is being pointed firmly in the direction of race director Michael Masi.
If he remains in his position, then Hamilton and Mercedes are not going to be happy at all. Since the unsatisfactory conclusion to the 2021 season, Lewis Hamilton hasn’t been too vocal as per bet offerings. He could easily have gone on a chat show or held a press conference and spent ages venting his anger at the situation.
That hasn’t happened, the only real dissent was not attending the FIA’s prize-giving ceremony. Doing that spoke volumes about how he feels about what has happened.
The signs are that there will be some restructuring in the sport. Masi is likely to be replaced and that may well be enough to keep Mercedes, Hamilton and other teams happy. It seems that most people agree that Masi didn’t follow the rules correctly in Abu Dhabi. There’s no sign of any change to the result of that race though.
A final decision is due to be revealed at the World Motor Sport Council meeting on March 18. The same day it’s the first practice season of race one of the new season. Will Hamilton be racing in Bahrain? Let’s hope so because we need to see that rematch between Hamilton and Verstappen and a season where the racing is both exciting and fair.
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