Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff has warned that should Lewis Hamilton opt to walk away from F1 it would be an indictment of the sport.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of Abu Dhabi, the ‘will he, won’t he’ saga surrounding Lewis Hamilton’s future in the sport is fast becoming a little tedious.
The total radio silence from the Briton, almost since the moment he crossed the line at Yas Marina has allowed the media to run riot, with some of the recent headlines, particularly those in the British media that rarely even cover the sport, way beyond nonsensical and bordering on the insane.
With the investigation into the events of those final laps to be investigated, and the decision not due to be announced until the eve of the season opener in Bahrain, the speculation is likely to continue while at the same time growing ever more hysterical.
While it is great news for the likes of Liberty Media and Netflix, it is beginning to damage the sport.
Helping to stoke the fire is Mercedes boss, who issues soundbites to selected media, clearly with the intention of playing on the passion of fans and the fears of broadcasters and sponsors.
Though Liberty will be basking in the publicity the whole affair is generating, it will also be fearful that Hamilton might see his threat through and walk, a move which would very much rock the boat.
While the Briton wields the power to have Chase Carey’s wife close down her Twitter account, an alleged bid for a slice of the F1 business didn’t prove quite so successful.
However, Liberty is well aware that of the current grid, possibly in the entire history of the sport, Hamilton is the one driver recognised way beyond the race track, and though there are drivers with a far more outgoing personality, he is currently the sport’s main draw.
At a time Liberty is understood to be seeking to sell the sport – an odd move considering all the talk of ‘boom times’ – it cannot afford to lose its star.
Talking to Austria’s Krone, Wolff warns that should Hamilton walk away it would be an indictment of what the sport has become.
“I really hope we will see him again,” says the Austrian, according to F1i.com. “He is the most important part of our sport. It would be an indictment for the whole of Formula 1 if the best driver decided to quit because of outrageous decisions.
“No matter what hurdle has been put in his way, he has known all his life that he has to speak on the track,” he adds. “But it’s incredibly difficult for him until he finds a way between being right and being wrong. It just takes time.”
Asked when he is likely to sit down with the Briton, the Austrian replies: “In February at the latest, and certainly not to drink tequila, I had enough of that in Abu Dhabi.”
Admitting that the events of Yas Marina will “never be forgotten”, Wolff adds: “Because what happened to Lewis was simply wrong.
“On that day he was unbeatable, until the stewards blew a fuse and decided on three infringements of the rules.
“It’s hard to understand,” he continues. “It will always stick with us, even though Max Verstappen is a worthy world champion over the course of the season. But on that day, one was better than the other, and he didn’t win.”
For those purists already totally disillusioned by what the sport has become thanks to the likes of Netflix, spare a thought for fans of golf and tennis, for following the success of Drive to Survive, the streaming giant has agreed deals for similar shows with the ATP and WTA tours as well as all four Grand Slam tournaments, not to mention a deal with the PGA tour and golf’s major championships to document the 2022 season.