Hamilton spurns notion of clear-the-air talks with Masi
By Ian Parkes
Friday 31st March, 2023 - 8:00am
Lewis Hamilton will not be taking the time to meet with Michael Masi this Australian Grand Prix weekend despite Formula 1’s former race director returning to the sport’s paddock.
It is now more than 15 months since Masi presided over what proved to be his final grand prix in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2021, and made decisions that ultimately cost Hamilton a record eighth F1 drivers’ title.
Hamilton was on course to clinch victory at the Yas Island Circuit to conclude what had proven to be a bitter season-long feud with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
That was until then Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed on lap 53 of the 58, leading to Masi introducing a safety car that ultimately changed the destiny of the championship towards Verstappen.
Masi effectively played a freestyle hand with the regulations at the time, culminating in Verstappen passing Hamilton on the final lap to claim his maiden title.
It proved to be a decision that led to Masi and his family receiving death threats, whilst it also cost him his job.
The 44-year-old from Sydney has since moved on to become chair of the Supercars Commission, the programme of which dovetails with the F1 schedule at Melbourne’s Albert Park.
On Thursday, Masi was seen engaging in conversation with a number of drivers and F1 personnel – Hamilton, however, has no intention of speaking with him.
Asked whether he planned to have a word with Masi, Hamilton replied: “I don’t.
“I am just focused on my future, focused on trying to get back to winning. There is nothing to say.”
Hamilton with Mercedes ‘until his last days’
The seven-time F1 champion, meanwhile, has dropped a further broad hint he will sign a new contract with Mercedes at some stage this year.
The team’s difficult start to the season which has sparked a major overhaul of its concept, and with radical changes looming to its W14, has pushed negotiations between Hamilton and team principal Toto Wolff onto the back burner.
With Hamilton’s current contract expiring at the end of this season, it is fast becoming a case of when – not if – he will put pen to paper on what will undoubtedly be his final extension.
“I continue to feel very much at home with this family,” said Hamilton. “I see myself being with Mercedes until my last days.
“If you look at the legends, Stirling Moss was with Mercedes to the end of his days. It has been the dream for me to have that and continue on with that.
“I have amazing allies in the team and we have great relationships here, so long as I can continue to help the team, drive the team forward, and really contribute then that’s why I want to stay.
“If there’s ever a point where I feel I’m not able to do that then it will be time for a youngster to come in and take my seat.
“But I’m still young and in pretty decent shape.”
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