The silence of the world champion puts pressure on the FIA. But with Wolff and the team there is constant contact
Lewis Hamilton’s silence is making more noise every day. It is a total absence that goes on from that damned (for him) Sunday 12 December that saw the Englishman mocked by Max Verstappen on the last lap of the last race of the F1 World Championship. His Instagram profile is silent. The most recent message dates back to Saturday in Abu Dhabi, when the Mercedes champion had qualified in second place and was preparing for the final battle. Lewis also deleted all contacts he was following. And in this strange isolation from the world, of which he is a global icon, he will celebrate his 37th birthday today.
37 YEARS: BETWEEN COMPARISONS AND THE FUTURE
An important age, at which Michael Schumacher was preparing to compete in his final season with Ferrari (2006), Niki Lauda had just retired to devote himself to his airline (1986) and Sir Jackie Stewart had already left the GP for three years (1976) becoming a television commentator. What is going on in Hamilton’s head instead? What will it do in 2022? Everyone is asking this, fearing that the disappointment for the epilogue of the last championship could push the seven-time world champion to a sensational farewell, in protest against an F1 that has betrayed him. For now, there are no official answers from either Lewis or Mercedes. Perhaps the Englishman does not feel like talking about the subject yet, since the wound continues to burn, or there is also a strategy of tension towards the International Federation, called to take a position on the work of the race director Michael Masi and the decisions that influenced the outcome of the Abu Dhabi GP.
IN CONTACT WITH WOLFF
Hamilton will probably never digest the bitterness for having seen the eighth title blown, with which he would have surpassed Schumi, hitting a historical record. His crusade, if it can be defined as such, is shared by team principal Toto Wolff, who did not hesitate to say that Lewis “was robbed” in the last race. From rumors, it transpires that Hamilton’s silence is only public. In private, the champion would be in constant contact with the team and with Wolff, sharing every information in the last few weeks. The interest of the driver and the team is that the FIA completes the investigation it has promised on the events in Abu Dhabi, the outcome of which is expected before the start of the next championship. Wolff asked for facts, not just words. Masi’s torpedoing? A reform of the rules? An admission of responsibility? We will see.
Meanwhile, Hamilton’s dumbness plays host to keeping everyone on their toes. The new president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, said he was “very confident” that Lewis will continue to race. Idea shared by Stefano Domenicali, the great F1 boss, according to which Lewis is simply recharging his batteries to come back very strong and even more aggressive in 2022. On the other hand Hamilton, despite having many interests outside racing, starting with fashion, he is still tied to Mercedes by a contract until 2023 and it would be really illogical if he gave up everything now without trying to take revenge.
After all, the way 2021 ended cannot be considered a defeat for Lewis. He was dominating the last race until 5 laps to go, when Latifi’s accident and the safety car changed history, so he has little to blame. It’s true, compared to the past he made a few mistakes too many at the beginning of the season, when Mercedes was inferior to Red Bull-Honda, but then he changed gears and from Brazil onwards he was irresistible, like the car.
In short, the performance standard remained the (impressive) standard of the usual Hamilton. And other firsts have arrived: over a hundred victories (103) and a hundred pole positions (103). It would have been different if Verstappen had outclassed him with the strength of his 24 years. Then yes, some doubts could have lurked in Lewis’ head. But the fact that the “old” king stood up (and how) the young lion suggests that their duel is destined to continue even in the era of new ground-effect cars.
January 7 – 13:44
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Hamilton is celebrating his birthday. The race for records will continue in 2022