Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing
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Mercedes are seemingly stuck in a difficult situation where they will have to repeat what happened at the end of the 2017 season with Lewis Hamilton’s future still unclear. Hamilton has remained quiet ever since the controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi well over a month ago.
Toto Wolff has admitted that Hamilton is ‘disillusioned’ after the turn of events which saw Max Verstappen steal the World Championship in dramatic fashion.
And the Mercedes team principal added last month that he wasn’t sure whether Hamilton would return to the sport for the new season.
Several weeks later and there is growing concern about what Hamilton will decide to do.
The British racing superstar similarly made Mercedes sweat at the start of last year when he was technically out of a contract before eventually signing new terms in February.
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But Mercedes maintained confidence throughout the contract saga that an agreement would be met.
Hamilton still has two years left on his contract with the Silver Arrows, but Mercedes may well be looking at alternative options in the very near future.
According to BBC Sport, Hamilton has ‘lost trust’ in the FIA with Michael Masi coming under increasing pressure for his actions in the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
There are growing reports that Hamilton could walk away from the sport for good, or take a year-long sabbatical.
That presents serious problems for Mercedes though as BBC Sport highlight how ‘every major driver’ is signed up for the new F1 season already.
If Hamilton were to announce that he will not race this year, Mercedes will then have to repeat what they did with Valtteri Bottas five years ago.
The Silver Arrows were similarly caught by surprise at the end of the 2016 season when Nico Rosberg announced his shock retirement.
Mercedes then scrambled to find Rosberg’s replacement, settling on Bottas to come in as Hamilton’s team-mate.
But bringing in Bottas came at a cost as they had to pay Williams a compensation fee to get him out of contract.
A similar scenario may have to take place this time around, which would unlikely come cheap given the new season is just a few months away.
It remains unclear whether Mercedes have begun looking at potential replacements for Hamilton.
But they will want a final decision from the seven-time world champion sooner rather than later with pre-season testing beginning on February 23.
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