Alain Prost thinks it is only “50-50” that Lewis Hamilton will continue in Formula 1 amid the seven-time World Champion’s radio silence.
Hamilton appears to have entered winter hibernation following the agony of relinquishing his Drivers’ title to Max Verstappen in such controversial circumstances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Briton, who has just turned 37, was on the receiving end of some highly contentious decisions from race director Michael Masi that left him, while leading the race, exposed to attack from Verstappen on the final lap of a thrilling season-long duel between them.
After the Dutchman had overtaken to snatch victory and the championship, Mercedes were incensed with Masi but ultimately dropped plans to appeal and Hamilton has made no further comment since a brief post-race interview in parc ferme.
He has also taken a break from social media, posting no messages to his fans over the festive period or on his birthday.
This has given rise to speculation that Hamilton is considering his future in Formula 1, with latest reports suggesting his continuation depends on the FIA’s response having announced they will conduct a full investigation into the unsatisfactory events of those closing laps in Abu Dhabi.
Prost can relate to stepping away from F1 while still at the top of his game. He did so for the 1992 campaign before returning for one final season, with Williams, at the end of which he retired having secured his fourth World Championship.
The 66-year-old Frenchman hopes Hamilton stays to fulfil his two-year contract with Mercedes, but suspects he has sustained psychological damage as a result of what unfolded at Yas Marina.
“It’s hard to put yourself in his shoes,” Prost told French publication Le Journal du Dimanche.
“He surely has as many reasons to stop as to continue. It’s 50-50. He’s taken a big blow to the head, but it would be really sad if he wasn’t here next season.”
Hamilton would, of course, be rightly applauded by the Formula 1 community if he does remain to compete for a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ crown which, notwithstanding the new technical regulations being brought in for 2022, looks a highly achievable target.
“I want to stay optimistic because there is this eighth title to go and this new technical regulation, with maybe three teams at the top and four or five drivers vying for the title,” said Prost.
“That’s a challenge Hamilton might want to take on.”
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