Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2021

Capito hopes Hamilton will return to take on Russell at Mercedes

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Williams CEO and team principal Jost Capito hopes his former driver George Russell will get to go up against new team mate Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year.

In brief

Hamilton departure “bad for George” – Capito

Hamilton’s seven-week silence since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix controversy has fuelled suspicions he may not continue in Formula 1. Williams chief Capito told RTL he “doesn’t care” if the Mercedes chooses not to return, but admitted he is keen to see how his former driver stacks up against the seven-times world champion.

“It would be bad for George [if Hamilton does not return] because then he couldn’t beat him and I think he would like to beat him,” said Capito.

Russell, who came close to winning for Mercedes in a one-off appearance for them in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, is “no longer a rough diamond, but a partially cut diamond”, says Capito.

Another manufacturer will join Formula E – Di Grassi

Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi expects Maserati will soon be joined by another new manufacturer in the electric series.

“With Maserati coming and another important name 99% committed to join, Formula E is seeing a bounce back from two difficult seasons tarnished by the difficulty to race in the middle of cities during Covid pandemic,” said Di Grassi on social media.

The series has lost Audi and BMW since last season and Mercedes will leave at the end of the current championship.

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Comment of the day

The FIA should bite the bullet over Abu Dhabi, argues Gnat:

There’s no shame in saying that it was a long, complex season, that Masi was under pressure due to too many hats, too many people with direct access, and a desire to try to satisfy all parties. As a result, there were lapses in judgement that appeared, at first glance, to be supported by the regulations, hence the decision by the stewards.

They have two options– let the results stand, or declare the Abu Dhabi race results null. This would still leave Verstappen as champion, since he had more wins. This would annoy Hamilton, but would be closer to ‘fair’ – although I believe it might affect Sainz’s position in the championship.

Then they need to restructure the FIA’s presence at each event – split the safety/technical duties (something I think Masi would be good at) from the job of race control. Race control itself might need a more formal, three person setup.

Finally, we need transparency – if there’s an incident on the track involving a potential violation, it needs to go to the stewards. Even if they decide no action is necessary, that’s fine, but there should never be a “no investigation necessary” flag. The guidelines for enforcing the regulations should be publicly available, and subject to review and input. Maybe every five or so races, there should be a review of recent incidents– not to change them, but to learn from them, and establish better guidelines going forward.

One thing I have considerable respect for IndyCar is their handling of racing incidents– they’re efficient, thorough, they emphasize fairness, and they’re not afraid to fix a problem with the regulations between race weekends.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Cliffery, Kutigz and Pmelton!

On this day in motorsport

McLaren MP4-27 launch, 2012
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button presented the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-27 today in 2012

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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64 comments on “Capito hopes Hamilton will return to take on Russell at Mercedes”

  1. I’m so excited for this. Thanks for the article.

  2. Agree with the cotd except the second paragraph, the race won’t be annulled now. If the appeal had gone ahead it was an option to dispense with it. But now the season is done, results are what they are. It’s not on the table. Otherwise, good ideas.

    Hamilton is a bit of a surprise, between the rapper, fashionista, humanitarian and now investor

    1. It’ll be interesting to see what he ends up achieving after he leaves F1. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him ending up at the level of Bill Gates with regards to how he puts his money to use.

      He’s obviously not happy with just living off what he’s earned so far.

      1. Greed knows no bounds….

        1. So salty. Why?

        2. Stupidity neither. The gods themselves struggle in vain, and all that.

      2. It’ll be interesting to see what he ends up achieving after he leaves F1. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him ending up at the level of Bill Gates with regards to how he puts his money to use

        Without the PC tax, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

      3. Maybe he is able to build a billion dollar company. I don’t see him getting as rich as Bill Gates of investments alone.

        So mayby add CEO to the list then…

    2. What I’m missing in this (and many other) suggestions is the need to simplify the rulebook.
      The more detailed you write up the rules, the more often you’ll find it to be inappropriate in certain situations (e.g. Kimi’s penalty).

    3. He’s invested before. He started Neat Burger as a co-owner a while back and that’s currently valued at £70 million and growing. Also invests in movies and property. He made about $7 mill on the penthouse he just sold. Seems to be a thing for F1 drivers; and I suppose most sportsmen. Although I think the big investors out of F1 are Eddie Irvine and Coultard.

  3. All this talk of Lewis walking away reminds me of his delayed contract renewal a couple of years ago. Of course he’ll be back. I can’t help but feel this stalling is just a tactic to keep people talking over the off season.

    1. That was just last year and it’s the cynical albeit agreeable take, sure. But taking it on face value, if he was already summing up the pros and cons last year, the end of the season would be a pretty big addition to the cons column.

  4. I hope Hamilton doesn’t quit for a couple of reasons. I would really like to see him compete with Russell (or Russell compete with him, you chose) in equal cars; Bottas just didn’t have it although he was a good number two. Secondly, if he walks away from this in a snit it diminishes him, throwing his toys out of the pram. He’s better than that. Sometimes you just have to suck it up.

  5. NeverElectric
    1st February 2022, 3:16

    Capito sure has a lot to say about Hamilton these days…

    1. Don’t blame him for the headline here.
      This site keeps on headlining non-stories (and adjusting those headlines) just to get the clicks and repeating discussions.

      Cupito said (according to the quote) that he “doesn’t care”.

  6. I doubt if George would cry too much if Lewis quit.
    It would make him top man in a top team and no worries about team orders …. unless Mercedes hijacked Max for his team mate of course ;P

  7. RandomMallard
    1st February 2022, 7:10

    I’ve heard that apparently Lewis has appeared in a video for Mercedes account on Weibo (Chinese social media) to celebrate Chinese New Year. I can’t check/verify this because I don’t have a Weibo account, and of course you can never know when these things are recorded, but it’s an interesting point if it is true.

    He’s also made a statement to Sky Sports, who have announced they’re donating £1 million to his Mission 44 project.

    I really hope this signals the start of signs he’s coming back

    1. @RandomMallard He’s been in LA recently based on some images I’ve encountered, although they might’ve also got taken a little earlier last month.

    2. @RandomMallard

      Quite a few Western celebrities do adverts and events in Asia/China that we never get to see, actually. Lots of money there.

  8. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this entire will-Hamilton-quit-the-sport? saga based on a few comments by Toto Wolff (hardly a neutral source) not long after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, only to be kept alive since by media outlets greedy for a story during the off-season and, in minor part, Hamilton not saying anything about it?

    1. Hamilton also made a cryptic comment regarding his return this season to Jenson Button.

    2. I think it just shows how far Hamilton has come with regards to his maturity around the press. He now knows the power there is in not making noise because he is normally such a large personality. The void he’s left by not speaking out is a powerful statement and leaves people to draw their own opinions on the facts of the championship and how it was handled. He has no obligation to help the FIA get out of the mess they created for themselves.

      I think the ill judged threats of penalising him for not attending the awards ceremony also added further insult to the situation after the stewards findings of tough, we can do what we like after the race.

      Ultimately we’re in a ridiculous situation that 1 month from the start of testing we don’t know whether one of the great drivers of the sport will return because the perception is, he doesn’t believe the sport is fair anymore. Whether you dislike Hamilton or not, the fact is this doesn’t look great for the “sport”.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        1st February 2022, 9:34

        I think it carries a bit less weight than he believes as we all know he’s coming back. As I mentioned below, the worry is that because he hasn’t addressed the public at all, once he does resurface, he’s going to get inundated with questions about it.

        Did you think about retiring? What made you decide to come back? Do you trust the FIA now? What were your thoughts after the Abu Dhabi GP? Did you ask the team not to protest? Do you think Max is a deserving Champion? etc…

        1. I doubt he’s thinking about what weight his silence carries. He just wants time away from F1 anything written by any journalist is mere speculation.

      2. Do you think LH will break his word and not honor the contract he signed last year? There are a 1000 people in the team and sponsors etc that are depending on him. Do you think that reflects his values?

        Regarding the media silence, he did that last year, so nothing to see here.

        1. I don’t think anyone is depending on Lewis, let alone a 1000 people, the Driver depends on the Team way more than the other way around. This is blown way out of proportion, as if F1 will fall apart without Lewis. Please? The next gen is already their and fans will just forget and move on to support someone else. Lewis in or out has short term ramifications for fans, that’s all.

      3. he doesn’t believe the sport is fair anymore

        Has it ever been? Was the Hockenheim crane fair?
        Maybe the point is not the perceived fairness or lack thereof, but just being terrified _ _ _ _ less of racing GR.

    3. Wolff has never been a credible person to begin with. He’s an excellent politician in the sense that he always deliver political correct statements that doesn’t confirm or negate anything. “Hamilton might retire…” doesn’t confirm or deny anything. He may retire as well as he may continue racing.

      We don’t know and Wolff is trying to create a drama out of it to get Masi fired to satisfy his personal need for vendetta and to even gain more political power forcing thee FIA to appoint a new race director who will know in advance that his job is at the mercy of Toto’s mood. If there is the slightest chance that Hamilton will retire, then Wolff would have been running in every direction with his hair on fire searching for a top driver to replace him.

      For those who believe that a replacement is already present in the name of Bottas. Toto himself realises that Bottas who has been underperforming by his own standard and hasn’t have any running in the Mercedes simulator for the 2022 car cannot be the lead driver Mercedes are searching for to develop the next generation cars. This specific area is normally where Hamilton starts to earn his money for his quality feedback.

      The FIA should call their bluff and confirm Masi as soon as possible because even they will do it in the Bahrain weekend Wolff will still put the blame on them saying that they didn’t left them enough time to find a replacement and Hamilton was forced no to retire so he will not let Mercedes down. He will search for a formulas that will make both of them victorious.

      1. Wolff has never been a credible person to begin with.

        Exactly my point, he’s Mercedes’ Helmut Marko. The only difference is that Marko’s statements are usually over the top, so it’s easy to label as nonsense. Wolff is a more composed character and his statements are rarely extreme.

        1. So apart from them saying completely different things, they’re exactly the same person. Such wisdom.

          1. You chose to take

            The only difference is (…)

            from my post and run with it.
            What I meant of course, is that communication wise they fulfill the more or less the same role for their teams. Though one person is taken extremely serious (definitely in this case), the other hardly ever.

  9. Yes, this diva-drama-queen disappearing act is a bit tiresome. Just say if you’re coming back so your team can plan accordingly.

    1. @joshgeake If Merc were worried, they would’ve already been actively looking for replacement options by now.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      1st February 2022, 9:35

      @joshgeake – The team already know he’s coming back.

      1. Or better ‘he never left’ ;)

    3. I don’t see his team complaining so I wonder why it bothers you.

      1. He’s like that person we all know that just likes to have a constant drama going on around them. Tears on Tuesday, top of the world on Friday, divorce on Sunday etc and it’s all publicly played out to everyone else’s groans.

        1. Whose this you’re talking about?

    4. Let’s just say that, in your job, your manager had done something to really tick you off. However, you had a holiday booked. Your employer has said they are going to investigate what happened.

      Would you confirm immediately, or during your holiday, what you would be doing, before the investigation was complete? I doubt many people would…

      1. @drmouse True but not really applicable here. The onus would have been on LH to advise Mercedes and TW of his leaving, if that is what he was planning on doing, so that they would have ample time to set up another driver. I doubt LH would leave his team in the lurch that way. I’m 99.99% sure he’s not leaving but if he does pull the plug at this point he will have done the team that has afforded him all his glory a huge disservice.

        1. @robbie the same could be said for anyone leaving their job, and most will have some form of notyice period they must give for the employer to make arrangements for their role to be filled.

          That said, I think you are right that he most likely isn’t going to leave.

          However, I also think there is a reasonable chance that he has told Mercedes that his continued participation is dependent on a reasonable resolution of matters by the FIA. I also strongly suspect that Mercedes have contingency plans in place already, as they would need to be able to cope if the situation arose where Hamilton (or Russel) was unable to participate next year (the hypothetical “hit by a bus” situation), and these contingency plans will have been strengthened if he has informed them as above.

          It’s also my personal opinion that, in that case, if he does “pull the plug at this point” due to unsatisfactory handling of matters by the FIA, it would be the FIA who “will have done the team… a huge disservice”, not Hamilton. I am aware that others may have a different view on that, of course, and they are entitled to hold their own opinion, but that is mine.

          1. @drmouse Of course my intention was to point out that LH’s is not just any job, and replacing him is more complicated than it would be for many employees of many companies. Even two weeks notice would be a disservice to Mercedes. They have global marketing happening as we speaker based on LH being their star driver. And I just think that if indeed LH has put Mercedes on notice that his participation is not guaranteed, we’d have heard more about TW’s contingency plans by now. Perhaps not, and they feel they have time yet if LH won’t be there.

            I do respect your opinion about potentially FIA doing a disservice to Mercedes, and I’m not sure what they can or will do to reverse that if they are not going to take the WDC away from Max and give it to LH (which they and we all know isn’t going to happen) and perhaps if indeed LH has warned them his continuation depends on FIA’s findings then I would think he will have expressed what it is he needs to hear from FIA, and Mercedes will have had the opportunity to weigh whether or not his expectations are likely to come to fruition. Hard to know from here without knowing what LH’s expectations are. I think he’s just going to have to accept whatever they say even if it falls short of his ideal, and move on and focus on 2022.

          2. @robbie I don’t think the issue is complicated. Hamilton just needs to be assured that an almost certain win (race or championship) won’t be taken away from him again by an arbitrary decision by the race director or any other FIA official. Can FIA assure him of that? Who knows. What happens if he isn’t assured of that? Anyone’s guess. I reckon he quits if he really feels that. But could be wrong and only he will know what he really feels and thinks anyhow. Difficult decision. However, I disagree that this is or was just some kind of ploy all along. I do agree that the decision may already have been made to return and is being kept under wraps simply to delay the media hassle and keep the pressure on FIA, that’s possible.

          3. @david-br Yeah fair comment and I too do not think his silence is some sort of ploy.

    5. @joshgeake What on earth makes you think that Hamilton’s team don’t know his plans?

  10. Let’s face it. As soon as Hamilton surfaces anywhere near social media or the media he’s going to get the same inane questions over and over about how he felt about Abu Dhabi etc etc and social media will be equally supporters telling him how hard done by he is and trolls telling him he deserved to lose to their god.

    I don’t blame him for taking a break from it all because as soon as he appears it’ll all kick off. Can you imagine the series of stupid questions he’s going to get at race 1. He’s not quitting – he’s just giving himself a rest from stupidity.

    1. @dbradock Indeed. People have mistakenly taken his public silence as a definitive sign, even though it’s merely about what you’ve pointed out.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        1st February 2022, 9:29

        To be fair, I think it’s a small minority who have even considered the idea that he might retire. Obviously the media are going to print stories about it because it’s the off-season and they need something to talk about but there was never a second where I believed he was even thinking about retiring.

        The one mistake I think he’s made is that he could have given a few interviews (he could have picked where and who with) to explain his views regarding the 2021 season and could have said “that’s the last I’m talking about it.” Instead, he’s not spoken to anyone so once the season starts, it’ll be the first chance people have to ask him about the end of last season and they will.

        The situation should have been put to bed by now so he can focus on 2022 but it hasn’t so it’s all anyone will ask him about.

        1. @petebaldwin

          Given that he’s driven by resentment, it may actually be a good strategy to fire himself up for the next season.

          1. @aapje Wow some classic projection there. Hamilton is clearly driven primarily by the fact he loves driving fast. Then by competing. Which applies to just about everyone on the grid, I’d imagine.

          2. @david-br

            Lewis has huge swings in performance, which correlate rather strongly with the standings, suggesting that he is more motivated by winning championships than by maximizing the results of each race. He ​clearly motivates himself by anger and conspiracy theories, which he comes up with every season. In his time off, he has a lot of other hobbies than driving fast.

            If you can’t see the difference with Max, who drives much more consistently across the season, and spends much of his time off racing cars online, then…

            I find it rather amazing that so many Lewisfans refuse to see Lewis for who he is, preferring a fantasy over reality. It’s OK to like Lewis for who he is, or like his results without caring about his personality. But it’s just weird to pretend that he’s different from who he is.

          3. I can see LH at some point, likely after FIA makes a statement post-analysis of AD, publishing a letter stating where he stands, and then when the inevitable grilling still comes from the media at the first race he can just say things such as he explained it all in his letter, has nothing further to add, and would like to focus on 2022 now.

          4. @aapje

            he has a lot of other hobbies than driving fast

            Including motorbikes, jet skiing, skydiving… It’s safe to say speed and adrenaline are something he actively seeks. Sure, he also plays music, follows fashion, hangs out with celebs etc. none of which are likely to be ‘driven by resentment’ either. I agree that he sometimes seems to turn perceived injustice into a motivator. Wolff himself has backed that up too. However, it can’t be the primary motivation. And it’s not necessarily his best motivation over a season – it’s more like a kick start after he becomes despondent. If he decides to return after Abu Dhabi, it will be because he wants to race a Formula 1 car still.

        2. @petebaldwin The silence was initially imposed by the possibility that Mercedes were going to take the issue to arbitration. After they dropped that route of appeal, Hamilton could have then made some media statement but chose not to. I think that was – as Wolff heavily implied – because he was considering whether to continue or not and wanted time and space. That is not an unrealistic scenario by any means. Of course, it might be true that most people considered him unlikely to retire, as you say. But that’s not the same as saying that it’s unlikely that he considered retiring – or even may still be considering that option.

  11. People still won’t stop pondering about something that won’t happen anyway.
    He would’ve already announced by now. Not this close to testing anymore.

    Sainz’s WDC position would be irrelevant as driver’s championship standings below the top-3 are secondary anyway.
    More importantly, zero impact on WCC standings as the eventual final order was already in place pre-event.
    Nevertheless, not much point anymore, although Merc probably would’ve pushed for annulling had Hamilton led in points beforehand.

  12. Stop acting as if Hamilton is going to quit, it’s tiresome and nonsense. It’s just an act to put pressure on the FIA and a nice media trick.

  13. He wanted to retire at the end of the season with the 8th in the bag.

    Things didn’t work out as planned and now he has to weigh in the possibility of tarnishing his legacy with the incoming changes. Any planned work on his musical and fashion career also have to be put on hold.

    1. He signed a two-year contract extension with Mercedes pretty early last season, so I doubt retiring at the end of 2021 was ever on his mind. Continued speculation that he might not return is just the media flogging a horse that’s so dead it’s already been put in a lasagne.

      1. As well, if LH had won his 8th last year imho that does not mean he would have just called that his last season. I think LH is the type that will want all the attention and accolades on him once the world knows he is on his last season, so that he can enjoy every race being ‘LH’s last race at such and such a venue etc etc.’ I really don’t see him suddenly just walking off into the sunset without all the fanfare. I think his fans would also like to know when it will be his last season as they can take that as their last opportunity to go to a race if they want to see him race live one last time, or perhaps for the first and last time for some.

        Not sure what ‘tarnishing his legacy with the incoming changes’ means.

  14. COTD explains correctly why even annulling the race would not have been correct. It would affect those behind as well. Tsunoda overtook Bottas without any influence from Masi’s wrong decision. Would taking away those positions be correct? AlphaTauri would protest to have the result reinstated. And you definitely can’t argue that only the first two should be reversed, because that way madness lies.

    1. And you definitely can’t argue that only the first two should be reversed, because that way madness lies.

      @hahostolze True and I agree, but worth emphasizing that the madness was unleashed by the race director intervening to ensure that the first two drivers would restart the race next to each other by unlapping only those cars between them, ignoring the field after them. So FIA (via Masi) caused the issue by making the first two drivers exceptional in the first place – because they were effectively ‘the show.’ That was made very clear.

  15. Can’t get excited for new car entries in formulae as much as I would not be excited about McDonalds or Burger King joining the series. Just branding.

  16. I see why Hamilton says often that he is the one “with the target on his back,” every one wants to test their might against him. Throughout the years as LH44 fan it’s always another set up fans wanting their driver to “expose” Lewis year after year. Jost Capito is no different.

    1. When a team principal is more interested how his ex or loaned driver takes on the driver in another team it shows it goes much depeer than interest.
      I would be more focused on getting my own drivers to beat the ex driver and his future teamate.

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