Lewis Hamilton left in limbo as FIA set decision date for Abu Dhabi probe

The future of Formula 1 's biggest name, Lewis Hamilton, has been thrown into further doubt after the FIA revealed it won't publish the results of its Abu Dhabi investigation until March.

Hamilton, 37, has remained noticeably silent after losing the 2021 title to Red Bull 's Max Verstappen at the Yas Marina Circuit, where race director Michael Masi played a key role in the chaotic finish.

It was the FIA-elected official's decision to move lapped cars out of the way and stub out Hamilton's 11-second lead after a late safety car, leading Verstappen to pip his bitter rival to a maiden world championship.

Verstappen took advantage of the late confusion by pitting ahead of a one-lap drag race opposite Hamilton, who was denied a place in the history books following Masi's intervention.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was due to meet new FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem on Friday, where it's believed he would campaign for Masi to be relieved of his duties.

However, such a drastic decision now seems less likely after the FIA announced its intention to publish findings from the Abu Dhabi investigation on March 18, two days before the 2022 season is set to begin.

"The FIA administration, under the leadership of Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has started the detailed analysis of the events of the last Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix," motorsport's governing body said in a statement.

"On January 19, an item on the agenda of the Sporting Advisory Committee will be dedicated to the use of the Safety Car.

"The outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 Commission in February and final decisions will be announced at the World Motor Sport Council in Bahrain on 18 March."

Who do you think will be crowned F1 champion in 2022? Let us know in the comments section.

The upcoming F1 campaign is set to kick off with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20, the first stop on Verstappen's first title defence.

It remains uncertain as to whether Hamilton will be among those on the starting grid, however, with Wolff having recently said his star has grown "disillusioned" following last season's crushing loss.

The former McLaren star said after that narrow miss that he "will see about next year," leaving many under the impression he was contemplating a permanent departure from driving.

Victory at Yas Marina would have taken the Briton to eight world championships, one clear of legend Michael Schumacher, as well as tying the German as the only drivers to win five consecutive crowns.

It's been alleged Mercedes and Hamilton are seeking change at executive level following the fallout in Abu Dhabi, but that may not be forthcoming given the delay to the FIA probe.

Formula 1 lawmakers are reportedly reluctant to oust Masi—who inherited the directorial role following Charlie Whiting's sudden death in March 2019 —with a lack of well-suited alternatives apparent.

It seems even less likely, therefore, that the FIA would make such a call so close to the new season getting underway.

The decision to delay publication of its findings also works in the FIA's favour considering it gives Mercedes less time to protest any judgement before the 2022 season begins.

Hamilton will be forced to have made a call on whether he'll participate by then, with another two years left to run on his current Mercedes contract.

The veteran currently sits level with Schumacher on a joint-record seven F1 titles and is approaching a key juncture in his bid to pull rank in the greatest-of-all-time debate.

Read More

Read More

Source: Read Full Article