Mercedes to demand director Michael Masi is axed or Lewis Hamilton ‘will quit’

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is set to demand FIA race director Michael Masi is sacked – or seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton could walk away from the sport.

Wolff is set to meet with new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem on Friday to discuss the events of the 2021 championship finale in Abu Dhabi.

Red Bull star Max Verstappen secured a maiden world title in dramatic and controversial circumstances after he and title rival Hamilton went into the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit tied on points.

The Dutchman passed the seven-time world champion – who had dominated for much of the race – on the final lap of the season as a late Safety Car and tyre change swung momentum in his favour.

Mercedes’ fury was largely aimed at Masi after he decided against allowing cars to unlap themselves, as is tradition, only to change his mind to set up the final lap showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen.

Mercedes reportedly dropped their appeal against the results of the race after agreeing a deal with the FIA, which said both Masi and FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis would be removed from their posts ahead of the 2022 season.

Wolff said last month that Mercedes would ‘hold the FIA to account’.

Hamilton and Mercedes team members did not conduct any other media interviews after the season finale. The 37-year-old is yet to post on his social media accounts since the events of December 12 2021 and he reportedly has not yet committed to the new season.

With the 2022 season on the horizon – the first season in the new era of regulations – Brit superstar Hamilton may not be on the grid.

Do you think Lewis Hamilton will return for the 2022 season? Let us know in the comments section.

Ben Sulayem will address the incident in Abu Dhabi immediately, with a deadline of 3 February when the World Motor Sport Council’s meeting will take place.

It is believed the FIA will sack Masi – but one of the new president’s supporters, Bernie Ecclestone, does not see why the Australian should be removed from his post.

“I see no reason whatsoever why Michael should not continue in his job,” Ecclestone told The Daily Mail. “He did what he thought what was best.

“You can say I would do this or that or the other. But it would have been awful if the final race had ended under a safety car.

“Michael would have got in just as much trouble. He is a good man and the FIA should stick by him.”

New FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who succeeded Jean Todt in December, dismissed suggestions Hamilton would retire ahead of next season.

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“No, I don't think he will [quit],” Ben Sulayem told reporters. “I’ll ask your question, did Lewis declare that he's not going to race? No. Exactly. Being a driver, you declare yourself, you don't let the rumours [talk].

“I’m confident that Lewis [will return]. Lewis is a big part of motorsport, and of course of Formula 1, the new era [can add to] Lewis's wins and achievements, and also Verstappen is there.

“I am very confident that you will see a very challenging Formula 1 season next year.”

The 60-year-old also outlined aims to look into F1's regulations in order to avoid a repeat to the conclusion in Abu Dhabi.

The 23-race 2022 campaign begins on March 18-20, with winter testing for the all-new generation of cars underway from February 23.

  • Lewis Hamilton
  • Max Verstappen
  • Mercedes
  • Formula One

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