Lewis Hamilton retirement latest as FIA chief Mohammed Ben Sulayem makes statement

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen analysed by Coulthard

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New FIA chief Mohammed Ben Sulayem has confidently claimed Lewis Hamilton will return to the sport this year. The Mercedes star has been silent ever since missing out on the F1 Drivers’ Championship to Max Verstappen last month. Despite the uncertainty over his future, however, he’s expected to return to the grid later this year.

Hamilton was just one lap away from winning a historic eighth F1 title in Abu Dhabi.

However, the Brit was then beaten to the prize by Verstappen after an incident involving the safety car.

Hamilton has since been silent, unfollowed everybody from his Instagram account and refused to say whether he’ll be back later this year.

The FIA recently appointed Ben Sulayem as their new chief, with the 60-year-old taking over from Jean Todt.

And he’s insisted Hamilton should be back for more, confidently claiming he’ll take the fight to Verstappen later in 2022.

“No, I don’t think so, they are just rumours,” he told Marca when quizzed on the Brit potentially retiring.

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“Has he declared that he is not going to run? Exactly, no.

“Lewis is an important part of the sport with his achievements.”

The new FIA chief did admit, however, that he’d struggled to get hold of Hamilton since the controversy in Abu Dhabi.

“I sent him messages, yes,” he added.

“I think he is not 100% ready yet [to respond] and I understand his position.

“There are also rules that must be accepted by all drivers. For me there is no particular team or driver above the respect for the integrity of the FIA.

“But I cannot judge until I have all the data and the first thing on my agenda is to thoroughly analyse what happened in Abu Dhabi.

“In the end we are all human and the stress and pressure was there.

“I think it will all work out. You have to look more to the future than to the past.”

In the aftermath of the defeat in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff admitted he was unsure if Hamilton would be able to rally himself to go again.

“It’s going to take a long time for us to digest what has happened on Sunday,” he said.

“I don’t think we will ever come over it, that’s not possible.

“And certainly not him [Hamilton] as a driver.

“I would very much hope the two of us and the rest of the team we can work through the events… But he will never overcome the pain and the distress that was caused on Sunday.”

Wolff did, though, later insisted Hamilton’s silence isn’t down to retirement being on his mind.

Instead, the Austrian suggested it was because the wounds caused by his defeat were very much still raw.

“We are all wavering in emotions and Lewis most of all,” said Wolff, quoted by Motorsport-total.com.

“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.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, said in the Middle East that Hamilton shouldn’t retire just yet.

“I can understand being unhappy about what happened after the first few days,” he said.

“But you also understand that this is racing and these things sometimes happen.

“I think it even happened to him before (in 2008) so I think he knows that.

“I think Lewis should just look at what he has achieved. That should comfort him and encourage him to keep going, because he can still fight for the eighth title again next year.

“So I see no reason for him to give up or stop now.”

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