February 23 sees the first testing session take place in Barcelona. Five days before that, Mercedes are due to reveal their car for the 2022 F1 season. The big question remains though, will Lewis Hamilton be driving it?
In Abu Dhabi last year, it looked as if Lewis Hamilton was on the verge of winning another world title. However, all was to go wrong for the British driver, and it was Max Verstappen who won his first world championship.
The decisions – that did seem to look as if they were being made up as they went along – led to a one-lap shootout for the title. Hamilton was on old tyres, while Verstappen was on new ones. His Red Bull overtook the Mercedes, and it seems Hamilton hasn’t gotten over what happened.
There has been plenty of talk about a disillusioned Hamilton retiring. The British driver hasn’t been making endless statements to journalists or sending out tweets. He did avoid going to the FIA’s prize-giving ceremony last year and that indicates how upset he is with what happened.
The word is though that the inquiry that is taking place into what happened in Abu Dhabi will decide whether Hamilton races for Mercedes in 2022.
If that doesn’t result in the removal of Michael Masi as FIA race director, then Hamilton may well spend the rest of the year doing anything but race for Mercedes.
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Mohammed Ben Sulayem is the new President of the FIA and he knows that there were mistakes made in Abu Dhabi. The same was the case in Belgium last year when a two-lap race was deemed long enough for points to be awarded. That won’t happen in 2022 if a safety car is involved.
Hamilton and Verstappen set to lock horns again
The 2021 F1 title race between Verstappen and Hamilton was one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. The sport needs to see a rematch in 2022 and it’s Lewis who is the favourite to regain his title.
The last thing that the new President needs is to see Hamilton walk off into the sunset weeks before the first race takes place.
March 18 sees the first practice session at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The same day there is a World Motor Sport Council meeting. A final decision on what to do regarding what happened in Abu Dhabi is expected then.
With such criticism of his actions in Abu Dhabi, it is perhaps surprising that Masi hasn’t resigned. That would have eased the situation. Instead, we still have doubt whether Hamilton will be racing in F1 this year. Let’s hope that is the case and we get a fair and competitive battle this year.