Hamilton 'will never overcome the pain' of Abu Dhabi loss: Mercedes boss Wolff

British driver will not be attending governing FIA's gala awards in Paris

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Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said veteran driver Lewis Hamilton may never get over the pain of being 'robbed' of a record eighth Formula One title during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Sunday’s season-ending race in Abu Dhabi saw Red Bull’s Verstappen claim victory and the title after the deployment of a late safety car led to the Dutchman being placed right behind Mercedes rival Hamilton, who he then overtook on the final lap.

Race director Michael Masi decided to withdraw the safety car for the final lap, effectively turning the world championship into a one-lap shootout. Verstappen had a huge advantage as he was using fresher tyres and made it count as he sped past the British driver to clinch his first drivers' title.

The Austrian, speaking to reporters for the first time since Sunday's race in Abu Dhabi and after Mercedes had dropped plans to appeal, said he and Hamilton would not be attending the governing FIA's gala awards in Paris.

Attendance is mandatory for the top three drivers in the championship, with Mercedes also winning the constructors' title for an unprecedented eighth year in a row.

"It's going to take a long time for us to digest what has happened on Sunday. I don't think we will ever come over it, that's not possible," said Wolff.

"And certainly not him [Hamilton] as a driver. I would very much hope the two of us and the rest of the team we can work through the events... But he will never overcome the pain and the distress that was caused on Sunday."

Asked directly whether Hamilton, who turns 37 in January, would be back next year, Wolff did not commit.

"I would very much hope Lewis continues racing because he is the greatest driver of all time," he said.

"As a racer his heart will say I need to continue because he's at the peak of his game," he added. "But we have to overcome the pain that was caused upon him on Sunday. He is a man with clear values."

Wolff said Mercedes technical head James Allison would be in Paris to collect the trophy. "I won't be there because of my loyalty to Lewis and because of my own personal integrity," he said.

Earlier, Mercedes said they had made the decision to withdraw their protest following "constructive dialogue" with world motor sport governing body the FIA over establishing clarity for future racing scenarios.

"We welcome the decision by the FIA to install a commission to thoroughly analyse what happened in Abu Dhabi and to improve the robustness of rules, governance and decision-making in Formula 1," Mercedes said in a statement.

"We also welcome that they have invited the teams and drivers to take part. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas team will actively work with this commission to build a better Formula 1 - for every team and every fan who loves this sport as much as we do. We will hold the FIA accountable for this process and we hereby withdraw our appeal."

Updated: December 16, 2021, 1:56 PM