Lewis Hamilton's Formula 1 future continues to remain in the balance despite Mercedes dropping a number of hints that the seven-time world champion will return to the grid in 2022. The Briton has been off the grid since his devastating loss to Max Verstappen in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he was denied a record-breaking eighth world title.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was unable to confirm if Hamilton will return after admitting that his driver was disillusioned with the sport after FIA race director Michael Masi's controversial decision gave Verstappen the opportunity to steal victory on the final lap. According to Sky Sports' Craig Slater, the British racer's future still depends on the FIA's review of the incidents during the final race and its outcome.

Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen won an epic season-long battle with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP

The Silver Arrows team dropped their second appeal after the FIA revealed that they will be setting up a commission to look into the decisions that led to the controversial ending to what was among the most intense F1 seasons in recent memory. As per a senior source within the Mercedes team, the longer FIA drags its feet, the more uncertain Hamilton's future remains.

"In terms of Hamilton coming back to Formula 1, having the appetite to do so and getting over the 'disillusionment' that his team boss Toto Wolff said he felt after Abu Dhabi, the onus is on the FIA to deliver on the pledge they made before Christmas to investigate the happenings on that final lap and to come up with some findings," Slater said, as quoted on Sky Sports.

"It is understood that Mercedes want to see something tangible. It's been put to me like this: the longer this drags on then the worse the Lewis Hamilton situation is, and that is from a senior source."

Hamilton is contracted to the Mercedes team until the end of the 2023 season, and recent posts from the Brackley-based team indicate that the seven-time world champion will return to fight for a record-breaking eighth title next season.

Lewis Hamilton
Back in business: Lewis Hamilton will race in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Giuseppe CACACE/POOL