Following Sir Lewis Hamilton’s heart-breaking and controversial defeat to Max Verstappen last month, it has been reported that the Brit is mulling retiring from Formula 1.
The seven-time world champion was poised to win his record-breaking eighth F1 crown at the season-ending 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but a late Safety Car saw Verstappen take the advantage after race director Michael Masi allowed the five lapped cars between the title protagonists to un-lap themselves.
This gave the Red Bull driver a clear run at Hamilton on the final lap of the race, and the Dutchman took his chance into Turn 5 to sweep past the Brit to win the final race of 2021 and seal his maiden championship.
The manner in which Hamilton was defeated left the 37-year-old and his Mercedes team fuming.
The Briton got on the radio following the Safety Car restart to warn that the race had been “manipulated,” and Mercedes filed a protest after the grand prix.
However, this protest was swiftly denied by the stewards in the UAE capital – and although Mercedes subsequently lodged an intention to appeal, they later withdrew this and said they will instead hold the FIA “accountable” for an investigation they are carrying out into the controversial end to the race.
Meanwhile, many fans of Hamilton and a number of pundits have accused the FIA of rigging the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to produce a dramatic finish.
Labour Peer Lord Peter Hain has been particularly critical of the FIA and Masi, with him describing the season finale as “effectively rigged.”
“As a lifelong Formula 1 fan, I thought it was a perverted outcome,” Lord Hain said earlier this month.
“The finish was effectively rigged by the stewards in order to produce a dramatic finale for the theatre rather than a racing outcome,” he added.
Amid all the controversy, Hamilton is reportedly considering retiring from the pinnacle of motorsport despite him being under contract to race with Mercedes this upcoming season.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, for his part, recently admitted that he cannot guarantee that Hamilton will return to Formula 1 in 2022 after the heartbreak he suffered last month.