Lewis Hamilton will depart Formula 1 racing to pursue other avenues of interest. One day. Not anytime soon, though. An unidentified source said Hamilton, in the end, will honor his contract with Mercedes and return for a much-anticipated rematch with defending champion Max Verstappen.
Hamilton has not spoken publicly since threatening retirement on Dec. 12, moments after losing out on claiming his record eighth drivers’ championship.
On the team radio, Hamilton blurted out his raw emotions, indicating FIA officials “manipulated” the ending and “we’ll see about next season.”
Report: F1 source says Lewis Hamilton will not walk away from big deal
According to The Telegraph, reported by INSIDER, a source close to the Mercedes team said Hamilton will not walk away from the remaining two years on his contract with Mercedes. He could make $54 million annually.
The source is not the only one close to Hamilton who believes he will not follow through on his post-season threats.
Former McLaren teammate Jenson Button appeared on “Good Morning Britain” and predicted Hamilton’s next move. The 2009 F1 titleholder remains confident Mercedes won’t have to scramble and replace one of the greatest drivers in F1 history with two months remaining in the offseason.
Hamilton, meanwhile, remains silent. He disabled his social media platforms and continues his media blackout. Following his second-place finish at the Abu Dhabi GP, Mercedes officials issued protests on how the last lap unfolded.
Under a caution period, FIA Race Director Michael Masi allowed five lapped cars to pass the Safety Car. He then resumed racing for the final revolution. Verstappen, on fresh tires, passed Hamilton along Turn 5, clinching his first F1 title and leaving Hamilton disillusioned.
The protests were denied.
Jenson Button: ‘I think he will be racing, and he wants to win that eighth title to be the most decorated Formula 1 driver in F1 history’
Over the past six weeks, rumors swirled. Some suggested Hamilton will stay. Others remain convinced his disappointment will lead to his premature exit.
Nonsense, said The Telegraph’s source. The F1 insider scoffed at Hamilton’s silence. It’s “all part of the drama,” the individual said, adding it’s “all for show.”
As F1’s all-time leader with 103 grand prix victories, Hamilton was nearly a quarter-lap from earning a record eighth drivers’ title, snapping his tie with Michael Schumacher.
During his television interview on Jan. 26, Button spoke optimistically about Hamilton ending his media ban and getting on with preparing for the upcoming season.
“I really do hope he’ll be racing,” Button said. “I think he will be racing, and he wants to win that eighth title to be the most decorated Formula 1 driver in F1 history. And he will do that. I really do think so.”
F1 source says if Hamilton departs Mercedes, he would ‘f***’ the team
Hamilton signed a three-year contract extension in July 2021. Even with an estimated net worth of $285 million, according to Sportskeeda, one would have to think hard about balking at accepting $108 million over the next two seasons.
The source said if Hamilton was going to retire, he would have made the announcement already so Mercedes would have an opportunity to move on.
But if Hamilton happens to stun the F1 universe and decide to retire, he would “f***” the organization, the source said.
Perhaps, Mercedes would reach out to Pierre Gasly from the team’s sister squad, Alpha Tauri, as a seamless transition. Or team officials could negotiate to bring Valtteri Bottas back into the fold.
Don’t worry about it, the source and Button suggest, Hamilton will be back.