FIA President says Lewis Hamilton “is a fundamental part of our sport”

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says he sent “a message” to Lewis Hamilton and he’s “very confident” Lewis will return to Formula 1 in 2022.

Lewis Hamilton has not been heard from publicly since the controversial ending of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which saw him lose the 2021 title to Max Verstappen due to the FIA choosing to ignore the rules of the Safety Car.

Although Mercedes ultimately chose not to appeal FIA’s decisions, FIA’s World Motorsport Council has decided to launch a review of the events, to find out what exactly happened and what can be done differently in the future.

La Gazzetta dello Sport asked newly elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem about what he is planning to do about the controversy.

“I was elected only two weeks ago and I am still studying what happened,” Ben Sulayem said.

“F1 is a dynamic sport and we must be as well, active rather than reactive, the rules must be adapted. Regulations are not God’s book, they can be improved.”

Not only has Lewis not been heard from since the race, he also missed the FIA Prize-Giving Gala in December. As the FIA’s rules require the top three finishers from all their championships to attend, there have been talks of a possible punishment for the Briton.

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Ben Sulayem was asked if there will be any sanctions taken against Hamilton.

“I just sent him a message, I don’t think he’s 100% ready to talk about what happened yet. I understand his position.

“It is not a question of punishing a driver or a team, but about enforcing the rules. But I don’t want to make a decision without having studied the facts in depth.”

Ever since Abu Dhabi there has been a lot of speculation about the possibility that Lewis will not return to Formula 1 in 2022, mostly stemming from Toto Wolff’s comment that he ‘hopes’ to see him back.

Ben Sulayem however says he is confident we will see Lewis on the grid in March for the 2022 season opener.

“Have you heard Lewis say that he wants to retire? No. I am confident, very confident, that he will be there.

“He is a fundamental part of our sport,” the FIA’s president concluded.

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