Damon Hill believes winning an outright record eighth F1 title will prove “too tempting” for Lewis Hamilton to now decide to quit the sport.
Speculation is currently rife around whether Hamilton will return to F1 this season following the controversy that engulfed the ending to last year’s championship in Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has merely expressed hope this week the 37-year-old does not walk away, adding he needs time to come to terms with what unfolded over the closing laps at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Ultimately, Hill feels another opportunity to win an eighth crown will prove impossible for Hamilton to resist.
“He’s getting to the end of his career, well, it may be many years off, but he’s got a lot in the bank and he might just think ‘I’ve done all I can do’,” remarked Hill in a Sky Sports F1 YouTube special.
“But I’m sure that eighth title is just too tempting. I’m sure he’ll want to come back and have it and put all of this to rest.”
The 1996 champion can at least appreciate Hamilton’s ongoing disgruntled feelings given the fact he had the race and another title in his pocket until the intervention of FIA race director Michael Masi and the calls he made over the closing laps.
Masi appeared to write his own rules following the deployment of a safety car after Williams‘ Nicholas Latifi had crashed with five laps remaining, going so far as to suggest the Australian ‘caved in’ to the pressure being applied upon him at the time.
“I think, ultimately, the Lewis Hamilton fans feel very aggrieved, and Lewis Hamilton may do and Mercedes do, the way the decision went disadvantaged them and they felt robbed, so there’s a lot of ill feeling,” added Hill.
“In the Dutch camp, they’re very happy with the result but was it a satisfactory way of deciding a championship? You have to say it was unsatisfactory and I think it might’ve even been unfair.
“If you look at it from the point of view of how the decision was made, it allowed some cars to unlap themselves, but not others. That in itself is unfair.
“What it resulted in was a focus on the two title protagonists, and I don’t think you can run a motor race or championship like that. You have to apply the rules equally to all competitors.
“Manipulated is a very strong word. I think it was in some sense manipulated because Michael Masi, the race director, was under pressure to allow this exciting, thrilling race to happen between two drivers.
“I think he caved in to pressure from both sides but possibly more from the attempt to let Max come through the field, and that’s why he basically allowed only the cars between Max and Lewis to unlap themselves.”