Mercedes have all but confirmed Lewis Hamilton will return this year, tweeting “That’s right” after the driver broke his self-imposed, two month social media silence to tweet “I’m back”.
Hamilton has not spoken since being denied a record eighth world title in a hugely controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi at the start of December. And his team principal Toto Wolff raised doubts about his desire to continue in a press conference just before Christmas, claiming Hamilton was “disillusioned” with the sport and the way it was being governed.
But after two months of silence, the 37-year-old re-emerged on Twitter on Saturday night, posting a picture of himself smiling at the Grand Canyon accompanied by the words: “I’ve been gone. Now I’m back.”
I’ve been gone. Now I’m back! pic.twitter.com/Y8i0cgJXZq
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) February 5, 2022
Mercedes retweeted Hamilton’s post, adding a praying hands emoji. Then, accompanied by a screenshot of Hamilton’s name trending on social media, they added a further tweet: “That’s right”.
That’s right. 👌 pic.twitter.com/ZkNUh9Gc7t
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) February 5, 2022
There has been no official confirmation yet from the team and there is unlikely to be any until the FIA delivers the results of its investigation into what happened in Abu Dhabi.
Race director Michael Masi’s job is under threat, with Mercedes and Hamilton openly critical of what they see as inconsistent application of the rules. They are by no means alone in that and all the drivers are this week expected to meet with representatives of motorsport’s world governing body to discuss their thoughts.
The FIA has already admitted that Masi might be relieved of his duties, with the man leading the investigation, the FIA’s new head of F1 Peter Bayer, saying: "Michael did a super job in many ways. We told him that. But also that there is a possibility there could be a new race director."
The entire race control operation is also expected to be beefed up with the FIA working on a new structure.
Bayer will submit his proposals for approval at a meeting of the F1 Commission on February 14.