Hamilton would have continued in F1 even if Masi had stayed – Wolff

2022 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton’s decision to continue racing in Formula 1 is not a result of the FIA’s announcement that its F1 race director has been replaced, according to Toto Wolff.

The FIA confirmed yesterday F1 race director Michael Masi will not continue in the role as part of an extensive shake-up of its officiating following the controversial end to last year’s championship.

Hamilton lost the title to rival Max Verstappen after being overtaken in a final-lap restart arranged by Masi in a manner which contravened the regulations. The seven-times champion has not spoken publicly since, but is due to do so for the first time today as Mercedes launches its new car for the 2022 F1 season.

Despite concerns Hamilton would not return to the sport, Wolff said he “was never worried” Hamilton would decide not to race on. “Although you have to respect the driver is disillusioned after such events, but we have a strong team and a great support,” he told the BBC. “So I knew that he’s going to come back.”

He insisted Hamilton would have continued racing even if Masi had remained in his position.

“I think it was not about the race director or anybody else,” said Wolff. “It was about Lewis making peace with how the race ended.

“For him it’s all about justice, sporting fairness, and that wasn’t the case. He needed some time to reflect, he comes back, he’s strong, I see he’s in good spirits.”

Hamilton’s dejection after the race was shared by the whole team, Wolff added. “Like all of us in the team, there was an initial shock. I mean, it’s Formula 1, we must not forget it’s not global politics. But for us to be living in that microcosm it was absolutely shocking. We’ve never seen anything like that.

“So he had to walk away and he had to walk away and free his mind and think about something else and then start in a way working on those events and trying to find a solution, a mental solution for himself.”

“We all were [disillusioned] because why we love this sport is that the stopwatch never lies and the honesty about it,” he added.

“And he was clearly the best guy on track on Sunday, not even the best, he was dominating the whole race. And then that’s been taken away by a decision of a single individual against all rules. So, in a way, to kind of digest that is very difficult.”

Wolff said the team welcomed the changes to F1’s officiating announced by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem yesterday.

“I think most important is that we move on,” he said. “There was so much discussion about the Abu Dhabi event, for the right reasons, because how the grand prix ended is not how a Formula 1 world championship should end. But the FIA has put in some good new structures and we are happy about that.”

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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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28 comments on “Hamilton would have continued in F1 even if Masi had stayed – Wolff”

  1. Has Wolff just confirmed Lewis is staying on? I can’t tell what to read into this…

    1. @RandomMallard Effectively yes, although thinking this way is slightly pointless since Lewis was never going to leave in the first place. Only media speculation this whole time.

      1. @jerejj Media speculation fuelled by Wolff himself, who implied Hamilton may decide not to race on. I agree it was never likely he would quit, but Mercedes were perfectly happy to let people believe that while it suited them. Now they have got the scalp they want, they can pretend it was never on.

        1. Having already had one WDC walk out of the team without notice, it would be a pretty silly of the TP to start issuing assurances straight after AD about another WDC’s future.

        2. My thoughts exactly.
          Wolff chummed the waters and the journalists attacked.
          Lewis helped fuel it by going radio silent for the duration. He could have put it all to rest by simply making one post about taking a break and coming back ready. But he didn’t.

    2. I’ll add quickly: I always expected Lewis to stay on, this just seems to be an odd way to announce it.

      1. Maybe because there’s nothing officially to announce as such. He was actually never gone. What they can do is comment on the finale to 2021, and how LH felt, but clearly (correctly) their energy is now focused on this season.

        1. Yeah I suppose this is the case. As far as Merc, or Lewis, was concerned, there was never any chance of him leaving, so there is nothing to “announce” except a new car. It makes sense when you think about it this way.

  2. petebaldwin (@)
    18th February 2022, 9:05

    Yeah of course he would have. He was never considering leaving in the first place. Not sure the appeal would have been dropped though unless the FIA agreed to replace him.

    1. @petebaldwin
      Mercedes dropped their appeal simply because they have discovered that the legal system works in a different way to what they actually thought. There wasn’t enough time to discuss with the FIA because simply the new office headed by Ben Sulayem has just take over from Jean Todt.

  3. So a small recap of this story-arc: Wolff drops the suggestion Lewis might quit in one or two post-season interviews. All media get all worked up about it without having any extra sources to confirm Wolff’s subjective and flimsy suggestion. We get through the winter with a ton of articles on this non supported matter. Wolff says it was all nonsense and Lewis would continue regardless.

    It’s time for some ‘journalists’ to do some self reflection.

    1. It’s time for some ‘journalists’ to do some self reflection.

      Much easier would be a lion eating asparagus than for that to happen.

    2. Noframingplease (@)
      18th February 2022, 10:29

      …. And the same counts for the fans of Lewis. If you unfollow people on socialmedia on such a large scale it’s from a psychological point seeking for attention (by shutting your mouth, you can attract a lot of attention). And his fanbase just all went for it.

      1. True, but that’s what they’re fans for. They cheer for the highs and cry for the lows – that’s pretty much what being a fan of someone is about. Not all fans are the same, some might be able to put the story in a broader perspective, some won’t see through that it’s very handy for Mercedes to keep this narrative going.
        I expect professional writers to see through this and at least add some question marks or context to these kind of stories. After all they’re independent writers, not part of the Mercedes marketing department. But hey, maybe I’m setting the bar too high there.

      2. How about you don’t want to be drawn into any toxic post.
        20 years ago if you were following someone you either do it on foot or moto vehicle. What is with all these “follow me” craze.

      3. A large scale? He has 50 million followers across the various platforms and unfollowed about 800 on one platform. Which I’m guessing is less than a tenth of those who Lando dumped from his social media a short while ago with hardly a ripple.
        And not sure where you get his fanbase going with it from. It looks like the most vocal about it, here and on social media, are mainly those who are definitely not Ham fans. I would imagine his fans, through following the social media accounts of his friends and family, are well aware he has done the same this off season and he usual does, and have been just as relaxed about his future as his friends say he has been.

        1. @ian dearing

          Do you understand the difference between ‘following’ and ‘followers’? Because your argument makes no sense. The number of followers has nothing to do with how many follows and thus can unfollow.

          1. Yes I do. Hence why I wrote ‘unfollowed on one platform’. Which indicates that he has kept those he follows on all the other platforms. So kept 50 million followers and kept his regular 800-1000 follows on every platform except one. Didn’t delete any of his accounts elsewhere. And this is supposedly ‘large scale’ in relation to his social media presence?

          2. AFAIK, he kept his followers on all platforms, so I don’t know why you bring those up. The two are very different. Having fewer followers doesn’t change your ‘feed,’ while removing those you follow, does.

            So again, I don’t understand why you bring up those 50 million.

  4. Journalists and fans just making so much noise and conjectures, assuming stuff and stating it as fact.
    He never once said anything yet thousands of gigabytes about what he wants or will do.

  5. This is Toto effectively admitting that his previous statements about Lewis possibly not returning and Masi being a factor in this, were lies.

    I look forward to the media never believing him again, unless they have corroborating evidence…

    Just kidding, they’ll just continue as if nothing happened, having zero ability to reflect on their own failings.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      18th February 2022, 11:38

      @aapje They’ll jump straight into printing articles about how the Mercedes is really slow for the next month before it lines up in 1st and 2nd on the grid in Bahrain.

    2. Seriously, did you ever believe a word from Toto? I would not ask him for the time of day

  6. I homestly dont believe that HAM would have continued if Masi would have stayed. The trust in his integrity is destroyed.

    I guess Merc got some ‘have my word’ assurance that Masi will be replaced, in order to drop their appeal. So they waited whether this was fulfilled, knowing HAM would not return when Masi stays.

    1. Noframingplease (@)
      19th February 2022, 17:14

      So when Toto admitted he was talking BS you know it better as a fan? Please, keep your conspiracies coming, it’s indicating how his fans are thinking.

  7. So Toto Wolff insinuated that Lewis would leave the sport after what happened in Abu Dhabi and then says this today. The media lapped it up by printing the stories about who his possible replacement would be whilst Toto thought it would pressurise the FIA in some way. I can guarantee no journalist will call Toto out for “bending the truth” either.

    It was obvious to those who have followed Lewis career and who weren’t sucked in by Totos media tactics that Lewis would go and recharge his batteries and come back like the professional that he is, its just a shame the “franchise” he drives for are very misleading and sometimes always forgiven by the media

  8. Lies from wolff? Strange, usually he’s the most honest in the paddock.

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