With the mystery of Lewis Hamilton's radio silence since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix continuing to stump fans, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has opened up about rumours surrounding the 7-time Formula One Champion's possible retirement, saying that if Hamilton did retire, it would be an indictment for the sport as a whole.
"I really hope we see him again. It's the most important part of our sport. It would be a disgrace for the whole of Formula 1 if the best driver decided to retire because of outrageous decisions," Wolff said in an interview to German magazine Krone on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday.
"...What happened to Lewis was just wrong. He was unbeatable that day. Until the race control blew the fuses, they decided on three violations of the rules," Wolff said. "That's just hard to understand. It will always lag behind us, although Max Verstappen is a worthy world champion over the season. But that day, one was better than the other - and they didn't win."
Rumours have pegged the Mercedes Formula One Team as having used the threat of Hamilton's retirement from the sport as leverage to unseat Race Director Michael Masi, who made the controversial decision to let four cars unlap themselves in the penultimate lap of the Abu Dhabi GP, that allowed Verstappen to overtake Hamilton for the World Driver's Championship.
Masi's name did not appear on the FIA's General Organisation Chart amidst rumours that he faces the possibility of being sacked. Masi, and his colleague Nikolas Tombazis, were both included in October's document last year under the Secretary for General Motor Sport category.
Newly-elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has also leaned sympathetic towards the aggrieved Mercedes team which had filed two appeals against Masi's decision post the final race but dropped them soon after. One appeal was dismissed by stewards who argued that Race Director decisions should be final.
A secret meeting between Ben Sulayem and Wolff on Friday added fuel to the fire as neither party have officially put rumours of Hamilton's retirement to rest. The meeting, held in Geneva, did not go public and another black mark has been added to the FIA's claims of fresh transparency in all sporting decisions regarding F1.
Critics of Masi had alleged that blatant violation fo safety car protocols for the sake of entertainment placed a dangerous precedent for future competitions.