Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has released a New Year’s message after 2021 ended in controversy and frustration for Lewis Hamilton and the team, despite winning an eighth constructors title. Max Verstappen beat Hamilton to the driver’s title in Abu Dhabi as Mercedes were left fuming after the race.
Fighting for a record-breaking eighth title, Hamilton had just a handful of laps remaining during the title-deciding season finale and was due to take the victory before a controversial decision from the FIA race director Michael Masi saw the championship swing back towards the Dutchman thanks to a safety car.
On fresher tyres, the Dutchman stormed to victory after a last-lap lunge on Hamilton, crossing the line first to seal the deal at Yas Marina. Wolff was left furious and retreated to his Mercedes office directly after the race to trawl through information before lodging two protests with the FIA, refusing to speak to any media.
After the FIA dismissed the team’s two protests, Mercedes then gave notice for their intent to appeal, but days later decided to drop any further investigation. Hamilton was also notably quiet after the race and bar his post-race podium interview with Jenson Button, was absent during the FIA’s press conference and did not speak to the media.
The seven-time world champion has also uncharacteristically remained silent on social media too, with his last post celebrating qualifying second at Yas Marina. But, continuing with his media duties, however, Wolff said in a video posted on Mercedes’ social accounts: “Hi everyone. So this is a wrap, 2021 is finished. “There were some highs, there were some lows.
“There was some glory and some drama but, at the end, this is how it feels to be alive. “So I wish you a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and happy 2022! Onwards and upwards…Hamilton was knighted a week after the race in what was his only public appearance since the defeat and refused to attend the FIA’s prize-giving ceremony in Paris. The silence has led to some speculation that the seven-time world champion is to quit the sport, despite having two years left on his Mercedes contract.
But Hamilton’s younger brother Nicolas assured fans there is nothing to be concerned over.
“I think he is just having a bit of a social media break, which I don’t blame him for,” he told fans while playing a video game on streaming platform Twitch. “Social media can be a very toxic place. But he’s cool though. He’s fine.” As quoted by Motorsport-total.com, Wolff also offered fans an explanation, adding that his driver will be “lacking words”. “We are all wavering in emotions and Lewis most of all,” said Wolff.
“He won the World Championship until the last lap, and then everything is taken away from you from one second [to the next]. Of course, you lose faith because you can’t understand what has just happened. “The silence is there, of course, because he simply lacks words as well.”