Despite Sir Lewis Hamilton’s radio quiet since losing the 2021 F1 World Championship on the penultimate lap of the final race, newly elected FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem is certain that the seven-time World Champion will return to racing in 2022.
Since that race weekend, rumors have circulated that Sir Lewis Hamilton may not comeback in 2022, rumors that Hamilton has not sought to refute.
While Mercedes has stated that its star driver will take up the mantle again in 2022 at the beginning of the current regulation cycle, it is still possible that he will choose to retire.
However, Ben Sulayem, who took over as FIA President from Jean Todt a week before Christmas, is certain that F1’s most illustrious driver will return.
“No, I don’t think so, they are rumours…” Ben Sulayem told Marca at the start of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
“Has he declared that he will not return? No. When you are a driver, you speak for yourself and not what others say about you.
“I trust that this is not the case, Lewis is an important part of the sport and of F1, his achievements. Verstappen is there… I am sure we will find a very exciting F1 next season.”
Ben Sulayem said he acknowledged Hamilton’s dissatisfaction with his decision not to attend the mandated FIA Prize-Giving Gala in Paris four days after the season finale.
With Hamilton possibly facing disciplinary action from the FIA for failing to attend, the President stated that after reaching out to Hamilton, he has received no response.
“I sent him messages, yes, I think he is not 100 percent ready yet and I understand his position,” he explained.
“But there are also rules that must be accepted by all drivers. For me, there is no particular team or driver, out of respect for the integrity of the FIA.
“But I cannot judge until I have all the data and the first thing on my agenda is to thoroughly analyse what happened in Abu Dhabi.
“In the end, we are all human and the stress and pressure were there, so I think it will all work out. You have to look more to the future than to the past.”