What happens around Lewis Hamiltos is a mistery. To be honest, it’s even hard to predict what will be with Hamilton. This is not about a contract renewal, but the situation involved the entire Formula One. Let’s start from the very beginning, because this history is unprecedented.
Last four laps of 2021 Formula One abu dhabi grand prix
Lap 53 of 58. Latifi in Williams crashed in turn 15. That place is pretty narrow with no way to get out of the track. Once you crash into the wall, the car will end quite luckily in the middle of the track. It’s not the case right now, however the car was on track and Marshall needed to remove it from track. So the Safety Car went out to slow down the race and allow the steward to do their job and bring Latifi’s car out of the track.
Important! During Safety-car, the cars are not allowed to overtake. So, if you are a lapped car and you are right behind the leaders, you can’t overtake him or unlap yourself. You have to stay where you are, until the race director doesn’t allow you to unlap yourself.
In this moment, we are on lap 54. All the cars are behind the safety car and the procedure to clear the track has already started. Hamilton is 1st and Verstappen 2nd. In this moment in time, Hamilton would be world champion.
Another important thing. Once the Race Director gives the communication, ALL THE LAPPED CARS are allowerd to unlap themselves. Once the last lapped car in unlapped, the Safety-Car needs to wait an additional lap, to make sure that the field is compact again. Then we can have a new race restart.
Now it’s lap 57 of 58. Lapped cars were allowed to unlapped themselves. According to the rules, all the card have the right to unlapped themselves and the Safety Car needs to wait another lap, before to get into the pit lane. If the rules had been followed, as soon as the Safety-Car got the pit-lane, the chequered flag would be waved.
The Masi’s move
Michale Masi, the race director, thought differently. He decided that only the four lapped car between Hamilton and Verstappen, the two championship contenders, should unlap themselves. The other lapped cars, for whatever reason, were not allowed to. More than that, the Safety-Car got into the pit lane one lap earlier. Those two decision would be against the regulation, but there’s a rule that says that the Race Director can decide something different. And that’s what Masi did: he didn’t followed the rules and he chose for himself.
In this way, the race restarted on the last lap. So, people would have had another lap or thrilling racing. And that’s exactly what happened. Vestappen overtook Hamilton. Hamilton was unable to overtake back, so Verstappen took the championship to Holland. On Red Bull’s side it was all legal. On Mercedes’ side the race was literally stolen by Masi, who decided to put entertainment before rules. The Team Radios between Hamilton, Wolff and Masi are pretty energetic.
Hamilton and Mercedes Silence.
Since that night we have heard from Mercedes only through Toto Wolff, the Mercedes’ team principal. It was a digital press-conference, few days after the race, where he answered, in the most polite way possible, to the journalist’s questions. Since that day, absolute silence. No updates, no videos on thier youtube channel, very few content of Instagram. I’m not here to judge how the Mercedes’ PR division works. They have their good reason not to be as efficient as they used to be. What’s more important is the chaos around Formula One and Lewis Hamilton.
Formula One needs to change
What happened in Abu Dhabi was the results of a too complicated regulation, where rule are easy to be broken and the “illegality” we have seen from Masi is actually legal, because there are inside the regulation rules that allow the illegality. Madness. Pure Madness. Now the FIA and the motorsport council have to deal with the problem and find a way to make this specific rule much better. The Championship’s ownership won’t change anyway: Verstappen will be the 2021 world champion. However, the rule itself, or the rules around the main rule, might change. We’ll see. On March, 16th there will be the sentence…just two days before the first race of 2022 season in Barhain. I don’t think that nothing big will happen. It’s just too close from the beginning of the new season.
What about Hamilton? Only he and Mercedes know what’s going on. For us it was a long press silence started right after the end of the Abu Dhabi Gran Prix. There are rumours that tells that Hamilton will sign a new contract only in Masi leaves his job, but Masi will never leave the Race Direction, because there’s no other perfect person for the job. But they are just rumours, nothing true. If the entire rumours are true, however, there would be a war of nerves…that Hamilton will probably lose. Nobody is bigger than Formula One. There were legendary drivers who have come and gone. Formula One is still here. Formula One Will move on after Hamilton retirement.
However, there’s the high chances that Hamilton will retire. If he does, it will start a very frenetic game of “who goes where!”, because the Mercedes’ sit is a sit that everyone in Formula One desires. In the moment i am writing, we have absolutely no idea what’s going on with Hamilton…at least nothing official. And that’s what counts. Rumours are only a waste of time.
We will know only when the car will be presented. If Hamilton will be there with George Russell, then it’s all good, otherwise it’s maybe the time to imagine a Formula One without Sir Lewis Hamilton, because there will be only one month from the presentation to the first race…and in one month is hard to get a new deal, knowing how complicated the contracts are. Or maybe everything is already set and done and Mercedes waits only the right moment to announce the new deal, using this moment to force the FIA’s hands. That would be also an option.
And Mercedes itself?
The key is to understand what Mercedes will do: will Mercedes stay in Formula One, after “Michale Masi stole the championship from them”? They felt somehow stolen and not protected. Mercedes would have all the right to say “I’m leaving!” That’s might be a problem for Formula One, because at the moment, there’s no team ready to fill the empty space left from Mercedes. It quite unluckily, but if it happened, that would be a huge Earthquake. I can’t even imagine the chaos if Mercedes decided to leave Formula One right before the beginning of the season. It’s a sci-fi scenario right now, but you know…never say never, especially after the end of the 2021 season.
We only need to wait and have patience. One day, the fog will disappear and we all we know about Hamilton’s future.