Formula 1 Reveal: The one thing we do not know about Lewis Hamilton’s plans

Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 future suddenly seems to be in question following a bizarre end to a season he had hoped would bring him a record-breaking eighth world championship. After the heartbreak of watching what would have been a record eighth Formula 1 world championship slip away in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit, there is uncertainty surrounding the racing future of Lewis Hamilton.

 

 

Rumors have emerged that Hamilton may call it quits after the 2021 season, with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff not even sure that a “disillusioned” Hamilton will fulfill the remainder of his contract. It has been said that nobody would blame him, given the controversial one-lap shootout that was produced by the late safety car period, leading to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen standing atop the podium as the newly crowned world champion.

 

 

 

 

Hamilton has not posted to social media since the dramatic outcome of the season, and he failed to show up to the FIA’s prize-giving gala in Paris, France two Thursdays ago, a clear breach of Formula 1’s sporting regulations given the fact that he finished the season inside the top three in the driver standings. At the end of the day, nobody knows, possibly including Hamilton, what his next move is.

 

 

There have already been reports stating that he has told Mercedes he will continue. Other reports indicate that a return is unlikely. In other words, it’s typical Hamilton offseason drama for the media. But there is one thing that we do know about Hamilton’s plans as the clock ticks down in 2021, and that one thing may be perceived as somewhat of a warning shot to the rest of the grid.

 

 

The one thing we do know about Lewis Hamilton’s plans is the fact that we won’t know anything official about Lewis Hamilton’s plans for quite some time. Don’t expect that to change, given his ongoing public silence. It will be much like it was before the 2021 season, but with the stakes even higher for all parties involved. After the 19th of 20 drivers, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, was confirmed on the 2021 grid last December,

Lewis Hamilton was still without a deal to compete for Mercedes, as the two-year contract that he had signed during the 2018 season had expired. And that wasn’t just the case for a few days or a few weeks. In fact, once the calendar flipped from 2020 to 2021, he was technically no longer a member of the team, as his deal had completely expired. Formula 1 fans were, for lack of a better word, talking.

There was a ton of speculation throughout last winter. Some sources indicated that Daimler found Hamilton’s new contract demands to be too high and rejected them. Some sources indicated that Hamilton himself had rejected an offer/offers from the team. Several even indicated both, prompting quite a bit of confusion and uncertainty. Sound familiar?

It was revealed that the team had until the end of February to come to an agreement with the 36-year-old Briton, and they eventually did, signing him to another one-year deal. But while he was due to become a free agent again after the 2021 season, he and the team ultimately agreed to a new two-year contract, which extends through the 2023 season, during the summer. Considering just how dramatic that sequence of events was made out to be,

especially in light of the fact that there was always just that gut feeling that he would indeed be back, can you imagine what this offseason will hold? Yes, Hamilton is under contract through the 2023 season, as was made clear above — and just about everywhere else you could go to confirm it. But the recent of chatter about Hamilton retiring could spark even more interest that last year’s possibility of him not competing in another race.

Regardless, even amid one of the most unimaginable sporting disappointments ever, Hamilton holds all the cards here. And that could be dangerous for everyone else. He could easily opt to walk away, and nobody would blame him. Again, he would have months to make up his mind, taking time away from Formula 1 to think about his future while using time itself to heal with the situation he was dealt three weekends ago.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in the post race FIA Press Conference.
13.10.2019. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday.
Photo credit should read: XPB/Press Association Images.

Or he could easily opt to return. If he does return, will he be able to focus on continuing to compete at his usual high level without skipping a beat? After 2021, you can go both ways on this. So much of the sport is mental, far more than is generally let on. Could he overcome that hurdle considering this year’s heartbreak? The other way would obviously be that a determined Hamilton comes back and is not denied another huge year, one that is actually capped off by a record-breaking eighth world championship — and one that is not decided in court.

This scenario is made even more interesting by the fact that, like we said, he could easily have it in the back of his mind right now but not plan to confirm it for several months — kind of as a way to “keep them guessing” and create an element of uncertainty for everybody else. The talk of Hamilton retirement has started. It has become widespread. It isn’t going to slow down, because Hamilton isn’t going to stop it anytime soon.

Surely it will be heard and, at the very least, thought about and considered, by other drivers. While Verstappen has become a master at blocking out the outside “noise”, which he detailed in a recent discussion with Beyond the Flag, he would have to be included in the “other drivers”. How do you prepare for battle against a driver you, for months, will have no idea you’ll actually be battling against?

Make of that what you will. Oh, and one last thought: perhaps the thought of Hamilton no longer being on the grid after what happened in 2021 will lead to a bit more appreciation for him if he does return, at least for those on the fence In the meantime, Hamilton remains the betting favorite to win the 2022 Formula 1 world championship, though his -112 opening odds have turned into +130 odds.

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