Toto Wolff suggested he is unsure whether Lewis Hamilton will continue racing in Formula One as the seven-time champion is “disillusioned” with how he lost this year’s title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton was denied a record eighth championship on the final lap of the race after a controversial finish in Abu Dhabi. FIA race director Michael Masi appeared to ignore F1’s sporting regulations to set up a one-lap race to the finish when Hamilton was in a significantly disadvantaged position compared to Max Verstappen in terms of his tyres.
On Thursday, Mercedes confirmed it would not be pursuing an appeal of the result, officially confirming Verstappen as champion.
Mercedes still plans to hold the FIA accountable for the events in Abu Dhabi — the FIA said on Wednesday it would investigate the final laps as part of a “clarification exercise”, which Mercedes and other F1 teams will be a part of.
Wolff said he and Hamilton might never get over how the race ended.
“Lewis and I are disillusioned at the moment,” Wolff said in a Zoom media call on Thursday, after confirming neither of them will be at the FIA’s prize giving gala on Thursday.
“We are not disillusioned with the sport — we love the sport with every bone in our body and we love it because the stopwatch never lies.
“But if we break that fundamental principal of sporting fairness and authenticity of the sport then suddenly the stopwatch doesn’t become relevant anymore because we are exposed to random decision-making, that it is clear you may fall out of love with. That you start to question if all the work you have been putting in – all the sweat, tears and blood – can actually be demonstrated in terms of being the best possible performance on track, because it can be taken away randomly.
“It’s going to take a long time for us to digest what has happened on Sunday, I don’t think we will ever get over it. That’s not possible. And certainly not as a driver.”
Asked if he’s spoken to Hamilton about his desire to race on in 2022, Wolff said: “I am in a daily dialogue with him but also respect that there is not a lot to talk about at the moment. Each of us copes in their own way with the feelings that we have at the moment.
“I just need to do the upmost that I can to help him to overcome his imminent feelings that he has in order to ensure that he returns strong, with a love of the sport, and trust in the decision-making of the sport next year. We wish very much that this will be the case. “
Wolff said for a “man with clear values” like Hamilton, Sunday’s outcome was difficult to accept.
He added: “I would very much hope that Lewis continues racing because he’s the greatest driver of all time. When you look at it from the point of view of the last four races he was dominant, there was not even a doubt who won the race. And that was worthy of winning the world championship.
“So we will be working through the events over the next weeks and months. I think as a racer his heart will say ‘I need to continue’ because he’s at the peak of his game, but we have to overcome the pain that was caused upon him on Sunday, also because he is a man with clear values and it’s difficult to understand that that happened.”