Rumours are circulating that Lewis Hamilton is considering his future in F1 following the controversial finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. And reports in Italy now claim that Mercedes could look to reinstate Valtteri Bottas should Hamilton decide to call time on his career in the sport.
Devastation and heartbreak for Mercedes in Abu Dhabi quickly turned to anger after Max Verstappen won the F1 championship in spectacular fashion a few weeks ago. Hamilton had won the battle on the track for most of the race and was in cruise control heading into the final few laps.
A record eighth title looked to be in the bag before Nicholas Latifi’s crash brought out a safety car which worked to Verstappen’s advantage. Still, with one lap to go, Verstappen would have had five lapped cars to clear before catching Hamilton.
But there was bitter confusion when Michael Masi decided to let those cars through with Verstappen then having a clear advantage on fresh soft tyres while Hamilton was on old hards. Inevitably, Verstappen got the move done on the final lap leading to jubilation and happy tears in the Red Bull garage.
A contrast of emotions was felt in the Mercedes garage though with Toto Wolff quickly storming off to his offices where they began working on lodging two appeals. Hamilton was gracious in defeat, praising Verstappen when he was interviewed before taking his place on the podium.
But the British racing superstar has been silent ever since, skipping the FIA prize giving gala last week. And it appears as though Mercedes are drawing up contingency plans should Hamilton decide to cut short his time in F1. Hamilton still has two years left on his current contract, but Motorsport.com claim that Mercedes are putting plans in place if Hamilton walks away.
Surprisingly, Bottas is at the top of their list to replace Hamilton despite the Finnish driver being committed to Alfa Romeo for next season. Nyck de Vries is an alternative option having recently won the Formula E Championship. Wolff was recently asked about Hamilton’s radio silence since the drama in Abu Dhabi with the Mercedes team principal admitting to being in constant contact with the 36-year-old.
“I’m in a daily dialogue with him but I also respect there is not a lot to talk about at the moment,” Wolff admitted when quizzed on Hamilton’s future.