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Lewis Hamilton

Watson understands Hamilton's silence: He was 'done out of' the championship

Speaking exclusively with RacingNews365.com, former F1 racer John Watson has said that he can understand why Lewis Hamilton is maintaining radio silence.

Lewis Hamilton
Interview
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Lewis Hamilton's ongoing radio silence, more than a month on from his last public comments in the immediate aftermath of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, is completely understandable, according to former F1 driver John Watson.

Watson, a five-time Grand Prix winner, was speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com when the question about Hamilton going to ground - and whether he will return for the 2022 season - came up.

Having lost the championship in contentious circumstances on the final lap after FIA Race Director Michael Masi withdrew the Safety Car, Watson said it's understandable that Hamilton has decided to maintain silence while an FIA investigation is carried out into the events of the race.

Hamilton maintains his radio silence

"I think he clearly felt that the manner in which the outcome of the race was determined was very unsatisfactory," Watson said.

"I would not disagree with him on that. I think that he is taking his time, not making any announcements, public statements, whatever, and leaving the negotiation or the discussion that may or may not be taking place, to his team.

"He's stepping back from all that, because there's nothing that he can say, per se. It's a team issue, really, so I think that his decision not to make any public comments are because he feels the people that will be in position to affect the change is that of the team – the team will make that change.

"You're not going to see a change of World Champion, that's for sure."

Watson agreed that the handling of the Safety Car was an area that needed close examination.

"The issues appear to lie around the manner in which the decisions were taken during the course of that Grand Prix, and whether they were correct or incorrect or inappropriate or appropriate, or whatever you want to say," he continued.

"What that discussion is going to be about, I don't know. I suspect it'll focus on the judgement that was made at the end of the race about putting out a Safety Car, and then other actions that were taken in the process before the race went back to a green flag situation for one more lap."

What happens if Hamilton and Mercedes aren't satisfied?

Watson added that it's not up to Hamilton to try driving changes in how races are governed by the FIA, and that that's an argument Mercedes will have to take on.

Given that Mercedes agreed to drop a post-race appeal over protests that were thrown out by the stewards, as the FIA confirmed a full investigation, Watson said it makes sense for Hamilton to stay quiet while that process is ongoing.

"If anybody is going to do anything about it, it's going to have to be his team. Because he is only a part of that team," he commented.

"He is not above the team, he is a part of that team. Therefore, it's for those officers in the team to have any discussions on behalf of the team and, of course, on behalf of Lewis.

"Obviously, everybody wants Lewis to come out and make controversial comments, for Netflix and Drive to Survive. The media is not accustomed to having a seven-time World Champion who just lost his eighth World Championship sit back and say nothing. So it's a bit of a paradox for them; they don't understand."

Could Hamilton walk away from F1?

But the big question mark, in Watson's mind, is what will happen if Hamilton and Mercedes aren't satisfied by the findings made by the FIA when the report is published on 18 March, or whether Hamilton may choose not to return to F1 this season.

"Anything is possible. I can understand what Lewis is feeling and going through, because he had done his job perfectly," said Watson.

"Up until that point where [Nicholas] Latifi had his accident, he was the 2021 World Champion. He had done what he had to do, and he did it beautifully.

"All these questions are questions that are going to have to be examined and answered, in a satisfactory way, for Mercedes.

"If that outcome isn't achieved, then I don't know what they're actually going to do. Because Lewis needs to know what are the ground rules, and who's going to operate these ground rules.

"[He will be feeling], 'I have no faith any longer in the administration, on the ground, from the current Race Director'. Cheated is not the right word, but he was done out of the championship by the actions of the Race Director."

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: How real is the threat that Hamilton will leave F1?

F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour weigh up the possibility that Lewis Hamilton might leave F1 behind, as well as analysing what might be uncovered during the FIA investigation into the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Interviews RN365 News dossier

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