Lewis Hamilton considers his F1 future after being ‘robbed’ of world title, according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has revealed that he and star driver Lewis Hamilton will never get over the controversial finish to the world championship.

Lewis Hamilton is considering his future in Formula One, according to his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. Picture: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton is considering his future in Formula One, according to his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. Picture: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton is considering his future in Formula One, according to his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, after the controversial end to the season in which Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pipped him to the world championship.

Speaking for the first time since the aftermath of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Wolff said that his driver, who was bidding to win a record eighth world drivers’ title, was “disillusioned”.

Mercedes have withdrawn their appeal against the result of the race after Hamilton, 36, signalled that he did not want to take the matter further.

Their decision, which comes after the FIA opened an investigation into the Grand Prix, officially confirmed Verstappen, 24, as the world champion. He collected his trophy in Paris last night at the FIA prize-giving ceremony — which neither Hamilton nor Wolff attended, despite the sport’s regulations stating that the top three in the championship should be there.

Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff revealed that Lewis Hamilton feels “ disillusioned” after Sunday’s controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Picture: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff revealed that Lewis Hamilton feels “ disillusioned” after Sunday’s controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Picture: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Hamilton had looked on course to win Sunday’s race until a late crash involving Nicholas Latifi, of Williams, led to the deployment of the safety car. Michael Masi, the FIA race director, then allowed lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to be moved out of the way once the safety car had left the track, leading to a one-lap shootout between the two title rivals. Verstappen, who was on fresh tyres, overtook Hamilton to win the race and claim his first world championship.

Wolff said he was in a “daily dialogue” with Hamilton but added that “there is not a lot to talk about at the moment”. The Mercedes team principal said: “I just need to do the utmost that I can to help him overcome these feelings that he has, to return stronger, with a love of the sport and trust in the decision-making of the sport next year. We wish very much that this will be the case.”

Hamilton has a contract to race with Mercedes for the next two years, signed in July when the Englishman said he was enjoying the battle with Verstappen. Their relationship soured through the year as the fight for the championship became more intense and bitter, both on and off the track. Hamilton has not spoken since the race, except for a brief interview moments after emerging from his car, which he finished by saying: “We’ll see about next year.”

He received his knighthood from Prince Charles at Windsor Castle on Wednesday but made no comment on his future. Wolff said he “hoped” that Hamilton would continue to race but that neither of them would ever get over the distress caused by what happened in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton was knighted by Prince Charles at Windsor Castle after his controversial Formula One world title loss. Picture: Andrew Matthews/POOL/AFP
Lewis Hamilton was knighted by Prince Charles at Windsor Castle after his controversial Formula One world title loss. Picture: Andrew Matthews/POOL/AFP

“Lewis and I are disillusioned,” Wolff said. “We are not disillusioned with the sport — we love the sport with every bone in our body and we love it because the stopwatch never lies.

“But if we break that fundamental principle of sporting fairness and authenticity of the sport, then suddenly the stopwatch doesn’t become relevant any more because we are exposed to random decision-making.

“You start to question if all the work you have been putting in — all the sweat, tears and blood — can actually be demonstrated in terms of the best possible performance on track, because it can be taken away randomly.

“So it’s going to take a long time for us to digest what happened on Sunday, I don’t think we will ever get over it. That’s not possible. And certainly not as a driver. We will never overcome the pain and the distress that was caused on Sunday.

“I very much hope that Lewis continues racing because he’s the greatest driver of all time. When you look at it from the point of view of the last four races, he was dominant, there was not even a doubt who won the race. And that was worthy of winning the world championship.

“We will be working through the events over the next weeks and months. I think as a racer his heart will say, ‘I need to continue’ because he’s at the peak of his game, but we have to overcome the pain, also because he is a man with clear values and it’s difficult to understand how that happened.”

Lewis Hamilton competing at the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. Picture: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton competing at the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. Picture: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Masi sparked controversy when he initially decided that lapped cars could not unlap themselves and then changed his mind, so the five cars that separated Hamilton and Verstappen were moved out of the way. Masi then decided to pull the safety car in on the same lap as the lapped cars, rather than the usual lap later as stated in the regulations. If it had been the lap later, it would have been the end of the race and Hamilton would have been crowned champion. By calling the safety car in at the end of the penultimate lap, Verstappen was handed the chance to pass Hamilton and take the race and title.

Wolff, 49, was scathing when asked if he had spoken privately with the under-fire Masi. “I am not interested in having a conversation with Michael Masi,” he said. “The decisions that have been taken in the last four minutes of this race have robbed Lewis Hamilton of a deserved world championship.

“He won the start [of Sunday’s race] and he never gave the lead away again. And robbing him in the last lap of the race is unacceptable.

“That’s why from a personal standpoint, from a professional standpoint, my values, my sense of integrity just isn’t compatible to the decisions that have been made on Sunday.”

Red Bull’s Racing team principal Christian Horner and 2021 FIA Formula One World Champion driver Max Verstappen attend the prize giving ceremony in Paris. Picture: Julien De Rosa/AFP
Red Bull’s Racing team principal Christian Horner and 2021 FIA Formula One World Champion driver Max Verstappen attend the prize giving ceremony in Paris. Picture: Julien De Rosa/AFP

On Wednesday the FIA, the sport’s governing body, announced that it would investigate what happened. It said “a detailed analysis and clarification exercise for the future” would be carried out. “This matter will be discussed and addressed with all the teams and drivers to draw any lessons from this situation,” it added.

Mercedes said that this decision by the FIA, coupled with conversations with Hamilton, had led to their decision to drop their appeal.

Lewis Hamilton is considering his future in Formula One, according to his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, after the controversial end to the season in which Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pipped him to the world championship.

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