Alain Prost has given his take on speculation that Lewis Hamilton could walk away from F1 ahead of the 2022 season.
Hamilton lost out what would have been a record eighth World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which ended in controversial style after a late Safety Car allowed rival Max Verstappen to catch up to Hamilton and overtake on the final lap.
Following the race, Hamilton spoke briefly to the media ahead of the podium ceremony but has remained silent ever since, and has unfollowed everybody on his Instagram account.
This also meant that Hamilton - along with Toto Wolff, Team Principal at Mercedes - did not attend the annual FIA Prize-Giving Gala at the end of the season, a move that could potentially result in some kind of penalty.
"Hamilton has as many reasons to stop as to continue"
Amid Hamilton's continued silence, talk over his future remains. Wolff admitted in the aftermath of Abu Dhabi that he could not give any guarantees that the Briton would continue in Formula 1.
Former driver Alain Prost - who himself stepped away from the sport for a year in 1992 following a bitter end to his spell with Ferrari, before returning to win his fourth and final title with Williams in 1993 - can empathise with how Hamilton might be feeling.
"It's hard to put yourself in his shoes," Prost is quoted by 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 this season."
Prost remains hopeful that the prospect of battling for an eighth World Championship, along with the challenge posed by the sport's new regulations, will be enough to ensure that Hamilton returns.
"I want to stay optimistic because there's 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," the Frenchman explained.
"That's a challenge that Hamilton might want to take on."
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