Sebastian Vettel tipped to replace Lewis Hamilton as George Russells Mercedes team-mate
Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing
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Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has been backed to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes if the 37-year-old steps away from Formula One following controversial events in Abu Dhabi. The end of the race at Yas Marina has stirred up a hornet’s nest between teams specifically Mercedes and the FIA, after the race director influenced the outcome of the Drivers’ Championship, handing Max Verstappen an advantage on the final lap of the race.
Masi found himself in hot water after allowing just five cars, specifically the cars between leader Hamilton and second-placed Verstappen, to un-lap themselves with just five laps remaining of the title-deciding race.
Despite leading the entire race, the Briton became a sitting duck on old, hard tyres as the race restarted for a last-lap dash to the chequered flag.
After the race, the FIA pledged to open an investigation into what happened with Mercedes and Hamilton furious by the events.
As the season grows closer, it’s reported Mercedes want to see the appropriate action made by the FIA from their investigation, yet Hamilton’s decision to return to the championship could be reliant on the outcome is of the inquiry.
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher is already looking towards the future and believes Vettel could be a great replacement alongside George Russell this season.
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“He has the experience, he still has the speed, and above all he knows the Mercedes car – or the engine. I think the Aston Martin concept is very close,” he told Sky Deutschland.
Aston Martin are without a team principal after long-standing team member Otmar Szafnauer has quit, likely to go to Alpine, with the German adding that could rock the boat for Vettel.
“This change in personnel at Aston Martin may not be ideal for Sebastian,” he said. “I think Otmar Szafnauer and him was a good team.”
On Thursday, the FIA confirmed an investigation is underway with President Mohammed Bin Sulayem outlining the next steps for the governing body, with a decision expected on March 18, a week before the first race of the season.
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The statement read: “Following the decision of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 15 December 2021, the FIA administration, under the leadership of Mohammed Bin Sulayem, has started the detailed analysis of the events of the last Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“On January 19, an item on the agenda of the Sporting Advisory Committee will be dedicated to the use of the Safety Car. The following stage will be a shared discussion with all F1 drivers.
“The outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 Commission in February and final decisions will be announced at the World Motor Sport Council in Bahrain on 18 March.
“FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has asked Secretary General Sport and recently appointed Single-Seater Director Peter Bayer for proposals to review and optimize the organization of the FIA F1 structure for the 2022 season.
“The FIA President launched a consultation with all F1 teams on various issues, including this one.”
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