Lewis Hamilton back at Mercedes factory before 2022 season

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Lewis Hamilton (right)
Hamilton lost the 2021 drivers' title to Max Verstappen after race director Michael Masi failed to apply the rules correctly on the last lap of the last race

Lewis Hamilton has been at the Mercedes factory this week as the team builds up to the new Formula 1 season.

Hamilton's participation this year remains in some doubt following the controversial end to the 2021 campaign.

But the seven-time champion has been at the Mercedes F1 factory on Monday and Tuesday this week completing pre-season tasks required if he does race.

He also shared some videos of himself doing physical training and preparation.

Hamilton's movements in recent days show that he is preparing for the F1 season as he would any other - but that should not be interpreted as a confirmation that he will race this year.

The 37-year-old is waiting on the outcome of the inquiry into last season's final race before making a final decision on his commitment to F1 this year.

Race director Michael Masi failed to follow the rules correctly in administering a late-race safety-car period, and his actions led directly to Hamilton losing the championship to Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Hamilton has not spoken publicly since the race, other than a brief message on social media last weekend in which he said: "I've been gone. Now I'm back."

But the events of Abu Dhabi are known to have disillusioned Hamilton and cause him to lose trust in the FIA.

The F1 drivers are due to speak to representatives of the governing body this week to discuss the events of Abu Dhabi and what can be learned from Masi's mistakes there, as part of the inquiry into the events of the race.

FIA single-seaters boss Peter Bayer will then discuss the inquiry's findings with president Mohammed Ben Sulayem before the pair present their recommendations to F1 president Stefano Domencali and the teams at a meeting of the F1 Commission early next week, on Monday 14 February.

It is expected that Hamilton will not finally decide whether to return to F1 this year until those findings are revealed.

One key issue for all of F1 is the future of Masi.

Bayer hinted in an interview last month that Masi might not remain as race director this year.

The responsibilities of the role are likely to be split between a number of different people and many senior figures within F1 consider that retaining Masi as race director is not a credible option in the wake of Abu Dhabi.

Whoever is in the role, a new structure will be put in place around them to ensure the race director has more support and is able to make decisions in a calmer and less pressured environment.

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