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Lewis Hamilton future, championships, grid, Mercedes, Max Verstappen, new cars, Bernie Ecclestone

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Former Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has made the bold prediction that Lewis Hamilton will retire from the competition.

It comes after the Brit missed out on a record-breaking eighth world title in a contentious season finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen passed Hamilton, who had been the runaway race leader, on the final lap to secure his first-ever F1 championship.

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INSANE Horner reaction to title moments | 01:35

Verstappen was only in the position to do so after benefiting from race director Michael Masi’s decision to allow lapped cars between the two drivers to overtake a safety car.

It left the two facing a final-lap sprint and Verstappen had the clear advantage after pitting shortly before to give himself fresher tyres.

Mercedes dropped its appeal of the result but Ecclestone believes the disappointment will see Hamilton opt against racing again.

“I don’t think he is coming back, I think he will not race next year,” Ecclestone told Blick.

“His disappointment in Abu Dhabi was too big and I understand him. Now, tied for seven titles with Michael Schumacher, it is the perfect time for him to fulfil his dream and be a fashion entrepreneur.”

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The King is Crowned! | 00:34

Even if Hamilton does return to the track, the former F1 chief questioned whether he would enjoy the same domination over the rest of the field.

“Lewis could only lose in 2022,” Ecclestone added.

“Who knows how the new cars will reposition the field? With George Russell he would have an ambitious team-mate, of whom I am not as convinced as many experts, by the way.

“And then we don’t forget about Verstappen. With him, Hamilton has finally found an equal opponent after many years.”

It comes after Mercedes boss Toto Wolff revealed Hamilton would never overcome the pain of losing out on the title in such controversial circumstances.

Max Verstappen is Formula 1 CHAMPION! | 00:37

“Lewis and I are disillusioned at the moment,” Wolff said earlier in the month.

“It’s going to take a long time for us to digest what has happened on Sunday. I don’t think we will ever come over it, that’s not possible — and certainly not him [Hamilton] as a driver.

“I would very much hope the two of us and the rest of the team can work through the events.

“But he will never overcome the pain and the distress that was caused on Sunday.”

Wolff though did not believe it would see Hamilton retire from racing, revealing that the desire to surpass Michael Schumacher’s record remains a goal of the Brit’s.

Huge crash closes gap in title race | 01:06

“I can understand that the first few days after a race like that you’re not happy but you should also understand this is racing,” Wolff said.

“I think he should just look back at what he has achieved already.

“That should give him a lot of comfort and should also be that drive to just keep on going because he is still trying to challenge for that eighth title and for sure he can do that again next year.

“So I don’t see any reason why to give up or stop now.”

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McLaren boss Zak Brown ‘wouldn’t be shocked’ if Lewis Hamilton quits before 2022 season

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McLaren CEO Zak Brown says he “wouldn’t be shocked” if Lewis Hamilton chose to quit Formula One before the start of the 2022 season.

The seven-time world champion has kept his cards close to his chest since he missed out on last year’s title to Max Verstappen, who overtook him on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in controversial circumstances.

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Speculation has been rife about Hamilton’s future after he was beaten to the world championship for the first time since 2016.

The 36-year-old and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff snubbed the end-of-season F1 gala, even though they were required to attend.

Hamilton, who is contracted with Mercedes to the end of 2023, is yet to publicly confirm whether he will race on this year, but Wolff is hopeful his charge will return to the grid.

Brown, who is the boss of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Hamilton called it quits and walked away from F1.

“I wouldn’t be shocked if he stopped, so I don’t think anyone should take for granted he’s coming back,” he said.

“My personal opinion is he’s going to (continue racing), but I don’t think we should discount or not recognise his frustration and his anger.

Lewis Hamilton’s F1 future is up in the air. (Photo by Kamran Jebreili – Pool/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“Maybe he hasn’t made a decision and maybe what he’s doing is taking time to make that decision to make sure, because once that decision is made, that decision is made.

“So, I don’t think we should rule it out or make light of it. I just personally think he still has a burning desire to race and that will ultimately drive his decision.”

Ultimately Brown believes Hamilton will continue to race in F1, driven by the desire to win a record-breaking eighth world championship.

“I think he’ll be back,” he said.

“He’s a racing driver. I think he’s at the top of his game.

“I’m sure he’s very angry, but I think race car drivers want to race and I think he’s a fighter, and he’ll want to come back and try to win an eighth championship.

“I don’t think he’s ready to retire; this is my own personal opinion, I’ve not talked to him, because once you hang it up, you hang it up.

“I guess you could come back as some have done, but I don’t think he’s ready to hang it up and I don’t think he’s going to let an incident put him into retirement.”

Hamilton lost the 2021 world championship to Max Verstappen in controversial circumstances. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)Source: AFP

Brown’s comments come after former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone predicted Hamilton will retire before the 2022 season, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.

The Brit reportedly also reportedly ignored messages from newly-elected FIA president Mahamaaed Ben Sulayem as time ticks on towards the start of the 2022 season.

Hamilton is expected to attend the virtual launch of Mercedes’ 2022 car on February 18.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the dramatic season finale in Abu Dhabi has continued.

The FIA, F1’s governing body, will reveal the results of their investigation into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on March 18, just two days before the season gets underway in Bahrain.

There have been calls for the FIA to sack Australian race director Michael Masi, after he came under fire for his use of the safety car in the dying stages of the race.

Many F1 fans criticised Masi for his decision to move only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to set up a final lap shootout between the two rivals.

Verstappen, on fresh tyres, overtook Hamilton to win the world title.

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F1 news 2022, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, 2021 title, appeal, decision date, new season calendar, full race schedule

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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton must wait two more months for motorsport chiefs to reveal the results of their inquiry into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where the Dutchman clinched the 2021 world title.

Governing body, the FIA, said Thursday that the outcome will not be revealed until March 18, just two days before the 2022 season gets underway in Bahrain.

Hamilton was poised to capture a record-breaking eighth world title at the Abu Dhabi finale in December before a controversial safety car restart allowed Verstappen to pass the British driver on the last lap.

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The incident has led to speculation that a disillusioned 37-year-old Hamilton may be prepared to turn his back on Formula One.

On Thursday, the FIA said that team chiefs as well as representatives of the ruling body will meet on January 19 to discuss the use of the safety car.

Drivers will also be brought into the discussions, it said.

“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,” added the FIA.

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F1 news 2022, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, retirement, quit, latest, new contract, 2022 calendar, season

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Lewis Hamilton’s F1 future still remains unclear with just 69 days to go until the 2022 season begins as the FIA’s investigation into the how the 2021 season ended now thought to be key in his decision making.

The FIA has pledged to investigate the controversial circumstances around the final lap of the 2021 season which saw Max Verstappen pip Hamilton to the world title in Abu Dhabi.

Mercedes withdrew their appeal against the result after the FIA announced they would launch an investigation into the events surrounding the safety car procedures.

Hamilton made a cryptic reference to his future in his post-race interview with former teammate Jenson Button.

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“We gave it everything and never gave up and that’s the most important thing. We’ll see about next year,” he said.

This pledge is now reportedly crucial in whether Hamilton decides to get into a Formula 1 car again, according to Sky Sports, and the delay in its findings are seemingly impacting the delay in the seven-time world champion’s decision.

Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater reported: “With 69 days to go until the first Grand Prix in Bahrain, it is still unclear whether Lewis Hamilton will be on the grid.

“In terms of Hamilton coming back to Formula 1, having the appetite to do so and getting over the ‘disillusionment’ that his team boss Toto Wolff said he felt after Abu Dhabi, the onus is on the FIA to deliver on the pledge they made before Christmas to investigate the happenings on that final lap and to come up with some findings.

“It is understood that Mercedes want to see something tangible. It’s been put to me like this: the longer this drags on then the worse the Lewis Hamilton situation is, and that is from a senior source.”

The 23-race 2022 season begins on March 18 with winter testing for the all-new generation of cars beginning on February 23.

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