LEWIS HAMILTON is yet to officially confirm his participation in the upcoming Formula One season.
Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley has insisted that his team will fully respect the outcome of the FIA’s investigation into the closing stages of last year’s hugely controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The governing body is currently looking into the circumstances of Max Verstappen’s last-gasp victory that cruelly denied Lewis Hamilton a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ Championship title at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The Brit led comfortably for the vast majority of the race but missed out on the final lap after Verstappen was bizarrely allowed to close up to him during a late safety car period by race director Michael Masi.
The Red Bull man was given a clear run at Hamilton when Masi asked only the five lapped cars between the two leaders to un-lap themselves before the restart.
Verstappen went on to force his way around his rival during the one-lap shootout that followed to claim his maiden Drivers’ Championship triumph under dramatic circumstances.
Hamilton’s trust in the FIA is believed to have been damaged as a result of what happened in Abu Dhabi and the 37-year-old is now said to be weighing up the idea of a shock retirement ahead of the new campaign.
He is yet to officially confirm his participation in the upcoming season despite still being contracted to Mercedes until the end of 2023.
The seven-time champion is said to be waiting on the results of the FIA’s investigation into proceedings before committing his immediate future to the sport.
The findings are set to be discussed at the F1 Commission meeting in London on February 14 before they are signed off in Bahrain in March.
It seems as though Red Bull are prepared to co-operate with the FIA’s inquest in spite of their favourable result in Abu Dhabi, with Wheatley eager to see the situation resolved as a matter of priority.
“It’s really important that the FIA do their investigation, and they work with the teams on the investigation, and that we should all follow whatever the outcome of their investigation is,” said the Red Bull chief on The Jack Threlfall Show.
“If we look broad brush at race direction, it’s a very, very difficult role that the race director and the stewards have.
“We look at that, and we talk about the consistency of the stewards’ decisions, consistency across the board, like people who watch football would like to see from referees, and it’s not always the case.”
Wheatley went on to issue a call for consistency from the race control room in future, even if that would entail a forensic evaluation of the current regulations.
“Of course, we’d all love it to be very, very clear,” he added.
“We’ve had this great, overarching philosophy of ‘let them race’, but let them race is a philosophy.
“You’ve then got the black and white of the regulations, which is often very prescribed in terms of what penalty… there’s no wriggle room in it at all.
“I think these are the areas of the sport that need to come from the very top. It needs to come from the World Motor Sport Council, who need to say: ‘Here are the principles by which we’re going racing’.
“Then it’s up to the FIA and the teams to work together to ensure a consistent set of sporting regulations.”