There are only 53 days until the 2022 Formula One season gets underway with testing in Barcelona. But as it stands, there is no guarantee Lewis Hamilton will be taking up his position in the Mercedes cockpit. One of the most controversial finales to a Formula One season in history saw seven-time world champion Hamilton lose his chance to become the most-decorated F1 driver in history.
With half a lap remaining at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, FIA race director Michael Masi allowed lapped cars overtake the safety car — and that gave Max Verstappen, on fresh rubber, a free run to hunt down Hamilton on a set of ailing tyres. It was not how any F1 fan wanted this championship to end, and the pain that could be heard in Hamilton’s voice on the radio as he witnessed the title being snatched from his hands by Max Verstappen.
Few could blame Hamilton from wanting to escape as quickly as possible after being wronged by the sport he had been a part of for the last 14 years. Before he did, he and his father Anthony congratulated the Verstappens on a phenomenal victory — a touch of integrity at a time where the sport was severely lacking. Still, it has been three weeks since Hamilton left the track empty-handed — and no one has heard from the Mercedes star since, at least in public.
There are genuine fears from fans, pundits and drivers that they have seen Hamilton in his racing suit for the last time. So where is Lewis Hamilton and is he coming back to F1? Those who follow Hamilton on social media will attest that the driver posts nearly every day about his workout routine to his 26.4 million followers, whether it’s a jog through New York or a simple weights session. But since that race in Abu Dhabi, it has been a case of virtual tumbleweed. Complete radio silence.
His brother Nicolas Hamilton, a British Touring Car racer, sought to put fans’ minds to rest by insisting Hamilton was just taking a break from the toxicity that comes hand-in-hand with being a celebrity on Twitter. It certainly fits the profile of Hamilton’s persona. While he is one of the world’s most famous faces, he likes to spend down time with his family, dog Roscoe and record music at his home studio.
As a spiritual person, this may feel like this period of silence and removing himself from the conversation will help him find his way to F1. But the longer Hamilton’s social boycott goes on, the more concerned fans of the 2020 world champion will be.