F1 legend Alain Prost has cast fresh doubt on the future of Sir Lewis Hamilton as the British driver continues his vow of public silence. Hamilton, 37, is seemingly still angered by events at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he was controversially beaten to the world title by Max Verstappen. In the immediate aftermath of the race, Hamilton was magnanimous in defeat, opting to congratulate Verstappen and thank his team as opposed to criticising the controversial safety car procedure which led to him being overtaken on the final lap.
However, he and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff then boycotted the annual FIA prize gala in Paris, with Wolff telling reporters the British driver was “disillusioned” with what had transpired at the Yas Marina circuit. The Austrian also hinted that Hamilton was considering his future, and his refusal to clarify his stance has led to increased speculation that he may retire from the sport ahead of the 2022 campaign.
That’s despite Hamilton remaining on the brink of history – just one title win away from an unprecedented eighth world crown – and his current contract with the Silver Arrows takes him up until 2023. And now Alain Prost, himself a four-time world champion, has voiced fears that Hamilton “could be finished” after the hammer blow of last season.
Prost, who currently works as an advisor to the Alpine Racing team, explained his reasoning in an interview with French publication Le Journal Du Dimanche. It’s difficult to put yourself in his shoes. He surely has as many reasons to stop as to continue,” he said. He’s taken a big blow to the head and he could be finished, but it would be really sad if he wasn’t here this season.”
The 2022 season will see new technical regulations brought into F1, with the aim of making the sport more competitive. It’s a notion that could lead to a number of drivers outside of Mercedes and Red Bull suddenly in the mix for the title. And despite his concerns Prost, 66, hopes the prospect of a fresh challenge will persuade Hamilton to put his indifference aside to continue his career.
“I want to stay optimistic because there’s this eighth title to go and this new technical regulation, with maybe three teams on point and four or five drivers vying for the title. It’s a challenge that Hamilton might want to take on,” he added. Of course Prost himself is no stranger to controversial finishes to an F1 season, famously going to the wire with then McLaren teammate Ayrton Senna in 1989.