It's clear Lewis Hamilton considered quitting F1— MPH


The seven-time world champion has denied it but Mark Hughes says Lewis Hamilton will have been seriously considering his F1 future during the break

Lewis Hamilton interviewed after losing the 2021 F1 championship

“We’ll see about next year,” said Hamilton after the Abu Dhabi GP

Kamran Jebreili /Getty Images

When Lewis Hamilton says, “I never said I was considering retirement,” the emphasis is on the word ‘said’.

Reading between the lines it’s pretty clear from what else he said later that all options were on the table after the anguish of Abu Dhabi. He just wanted – and still wants – that idea to remain private.

But it’s abundantly clear that what transpired at the season finale did psychologically deck him. Not that there’s any great surprise in that. It’s one thing for a hyper-competitive athlete to lose out on a championship; that’s galling in itself but the sort of setback that can be bounced back from. But to feel that you lost it because the system took it away from you as you were on the verge of achieving it is something quite different.

Was what happened in Abu Dhabi systematic? Hopefully it wasn’t and was just the misjudgement of the race director, his understanding of what he was and wasn’t permitted to do in what was an extremely stressful, complex and pressured moment and without enough support systems around him. But it’s completely unprecedented for a driver to have a title taken from his grasp by the invalid actions of a race official. It’s little wonder Hamilton took it personally.

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The FIA has of course taken action over what happened there, as announced yesterday. Michael Masi has been removed from the role and offered another (unspecified) position within the governing body and other improvements to shore up the system have been made. This has come in the wake of the FIA’s own investigation of the Abu Dhabi race. The fact that it has taken this action has to be seen as an implicit admission that Masi’s actions were – as we’ve said all along – not valid, that there is nothing in the sporting regulations which gave him the power to do what he did.

Those actions put the FIA in an extremely awkward position – as was reflected in the immediate aftermath by the stewards’ upholding of Masi’s choices in such a contrived way, but also in its statement afterwards which suggested it was the misunderstanding of the teams, fans and media about the incident which was responsible for the damaging of F1’s reputation!

“Hopefully everyone will get a better understanding of everything so we can move forward”

There was also the matter of how long it took for the investigation to get underway and then for the action announced yesterday to be taken. The FIA is not the most transparent of organisations, is very tradition-bound and it’s difficult not to sense that it would rather the whole thing had just been accepted and everyone moved on. In the statement that it was the ‘misunderstanding’ of others is the suggestion that only it decides what is legitimate and what is not.

But while acknowledging the positive changes it has made, there has still been no suggestion that the specific results of the investigation will be made public, as was originally suggested would happen. In this too, one senses the FIA is still very uncomfortable with making a full revelation about just exactly what went wrong and how. Will that investigation ever be seen?

Hamilton was asked about it. He didn’t seem aware that there was some doubt about that now. “I’ve not seen it,” he said. “I didn’t think it was out yet. I’m excited to see the results of that report and hopefully everyone will get to see it and get a better understanding of everything and ultimately it’s down to understanding where we’ve been so we can move forward in a positive way.”

That is indeed what should happen now. But should and will are not always the same.