Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says him and Lewis Hamilton will “never overcome the pain and the distress that was caused on Sunday”.
After Mercedes decided to withdraw their appeal against the stewards’ decision to dismiss their protest over the irregular decisions that were made in the final laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Toto Wolff spoke of the pain that was caused to him and Lewis Hamilton on that day.
The Austrian was directly asked if Lewis will return to Formula 1 next year.
“Lewis and I are disillusioned at the moment,” Wolff said.
“Not disillusioned of the sport, we love this sport with every bone in our body, and we love it because the stopwatch never lies.
“But if we break that fundamental principle of sporting fairness and authenticity of the sport, then suddenly the stopwatch doesn’t become relevant anymore because we are exposed to random decision making, and it’s clear you fall out of love with it.
“You start to question that if all the work you have been putting in, all the sweat, tears and blood can actually be demonstrated, in terms of bringing the best possible performances on track because it can be taken away randomly.
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“So it’s going to take a long time for us to digest what happened on Sunday. I don’t think we will ever get over it. That’s not possible, and certainly not for him as a driver.
“I very much hope the two of us, and the rest of the team, work through the events, and we can, with the FIA and F1, utilise the situation to improve the sport going forward.
“But he will never overcome the pain and the distress that was caused on Sunday. To be honest, still today, I can’t even understand what happened.
“I’m in disbelief, It still feels surreal.”
When pushed on whether he has any doubts that Lewis will return, the Austrian said:
“On a human level it is so difficult because it is so disappointing. As I said before, we love this sport but then you start to question.
“You must never lose the big context of life. Formula 1 is just a sport, much worse things happen out there and we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking this is the most important thing in the world.
“But it’s our little microcosm where we have created values and beliefs and many of those were kicked on Sunday.
“So I would very much hope Lewis continues racing because he is the greatest driver of all time.
“When you look at it from the point of view of the last four races, he was dominant. There wasn’t even a doubt who won the race, and that was worthy of winning the world championship.
“So we will be working through the events of the next weeks and months and as a racer, his heart will say ‘I need to continue’ because he is at the peak of his game.
“But we have to overcome the pain that was caused upon him on Sunday because he is also a man with clear values and that it’s difficult to understand that happened,” concluded Wolff.