Lewis Hamilton faces a two-month wait to discover the outcome of the FIA’s inquiry into the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which denied him a record eighth world title.
Formula One’s sporting federation revealed on Thursday – nearly five weeks after Max Verstappen was controversially crowned champion – that their decision will not be announced until March 18. The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix takes place just two days later.
Hamilton, who turned 37 last week, is disillusioned with Formula One following FIA race director Michael Masi’s handling of a safety car restart in the concluding moments of the grand prix.
— FIA (@fia) January 13, 2022
Verstappen was able to take advantage of fresh tyres to pass Hamilton on the final lap.
It has even been suggested that Hamilton’s future could hinge on the FIA’s findings. The Mercedes driver has not spoken publicly since he lost out to Verstappen on December 12.
The FIA launched its inquiry into the controversy early this week and Hamilton – along with his fellow drivers – has been invited to speak to the sport’s governing body about the use of the safety car.
F1 2022, we're coming for you! 👊
Which race are you most excited about this season! 💭 pic.twitter.com/nX2LyVfTEA
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) January 13, 2022
In a statement, the FIA’s first on the topic since announcing an investigation will be launched three days after the Abu Dhabi GP, said “the outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 Commission in February.”
It added that the “final decisions will be announced at the World Motor Sport Council in Bahrain on March 18”, three months and six days after the chequered flag fell on the 2021 campaign.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who was elected to replace the outgoing Jean Todt last month, has set resolving the Abu Dhabi GP farce as priority number one. It is unclear whether Australian Masi will retain his position as race director.
Highly-respected F1 pundit Martin Brundle, who took part in 158 races, told Sky Sports: “Michael clearly has one life left and I don’t know whether that is tenable all-round.
"He's done too much damage to Formula 1" 🏁
"Replacing Michael Masi won't fix the problem" 🏎️@johnnyherbertf1, @MBrundleF1 and @HillF1 debate the future of Michael Masi as F1's race director 👇 pic.twitter.com/jfIlZ7ryIP
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) January 13, 2022
“But changing Michael Masi will not fix the problem. This is way too big a job for one person to handle a 23-race season that is only going to grow.
“So, if Masi stays he needs a lot of support around him – I suspect that is what they are looking at – and who would actually want to step into his shoes right now?”
Testing for the new season begins in Barcelona on February 23.