Lewis Hamilton after the race in Abu dhabi
Lewis Hamilton will not decide whether to return to Formula 1 this season until he sees the results of an inquiry into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Image Credit: Reuters

Lewis Hamilton’s future in Formula 1 is in doubt and there are rumours that he may not return to action this season – even though he has a contract with Mercedes until 2023 - until results of an inquiry into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are revealed.

Hamilton lost the championship to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in last year’s title-deciding race but the Brit believes FIA race director Michael Masi did not apply the rules correctly in a late safety-car period.

Hamilton dominated the race and was set to secure a record-breaking eighth world drivers’ title when the safety car was sent out after Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams with five laps to go. His 10-second lead was wiped clear and the two drivers were sent out to battle on a solitary lap with the Dutchman taking advantage of a pit stop and a new set of tyres to win the title.

New president

An inquiry has been launched by the FIA into the events at Yas Marina while new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said he has contacted Hamilton since his election five days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“I don’t think he’s 100% ready to respond right now,” Ben Sulayem said last week. “We don’t blame him. I understand his position.”

The first of two pre-season tests starts on 23 February, while the opening race is in Bahrain on 18-20 March and the FIA says it will be done with the inquiry by then.