Hamilton warned he could find 2022 ‘really hard to accept’

Mika Hakkinen said he would like to see Sir Lewis Hamilton on the grid for the start of the 2022 Formula 1 season in Bahrain.

Double Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen has warned that Sir Lewis Hamilton may be deterred by the new regulations in 2022, and maintains that there is still a possibility that the 37-year-old may retire following the controversial end to 2021.

Hamilton and Mercedes were left disgruntled at the end of last season after race director Michael Masi reneged on an earlier decision by allowing a limited number of lapped runners past a late Safety Car, leading to a final-lap overtake from Max Verstappen to snatch the title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Barring an interview immediately after the race in which Hamilton congratulated his rival but also said “we’ll see about next year,” the Briton has been silent since the contentious finish to the 2021 championship.

READ: Mercedes rush to clarify Wolff’s comments about tensions with Horner

Former Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and former Red Bull driver Mark Webber have both indicated that the seven-time world champion may be headed for the exit door, while Perry McCarthy recently told Formula1News.co.uk that an impending departure is “possible.”

While Hakkinen did not explicitly reveal any opinion that Hamilton will indeed leave the sport, he suggested that he is likely still weighing up his options.

“Lewis’ journey in Formula 1 has been really long and there are so many elements which will come into his opinion as to whether to continue,” he told the Press Association.

“Lewis has the confidence. He has been winning, he has been on the top of the podium and everybody has been looking at him like, ‘Wow, you are great’.

“He is thinking that it must continue this way, so this is going to be a very interesting year for him.”

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Changes to the technical regulations mean that the ground effect will return to the sport in 2022, and Mercedes chief technical officer James Allison has suggested that the overhaul of regulations are the biggest he has seen since he began his career in 1991 with Benetton.

The Finn implies that the uncertainty of the quality of Mercedes’ package for 2022 is one of the factors Hamilton will be considering.

“The regulations in Formula 1 have dramatically changed,” he explained.

“It is going to be a completely new machine and the chances are that the designers might not find an optimum machine. If that happens to Lewis, it is going to be really hard for him to accept.

“If you have been at the top of the mountain and suddenly you have to climb back up the mountain because you don’t have the best car, it is going to be emotional for him to control.”

READ: Hamilton distanced himself from Wolff to ensure he doesn’t jeopardise ‘Hollywood future’

Lewis Hamilton considering retirement in 2022.v1

The 53-year-old would like to see the Briton on the grid for the opening round of the season in Bahrain next month, but cannot provide any certainties.

“There are a lot of question marks surrounding Lewis. We don’t know whether he is coming back, but let’s hope he is,” he commented.

Hamilton is set to partner George Russell at Mercedes this year after the 23-year-old was drafted in to replace the departing Valtteri Bottas following his five-year stint with the team.

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