Lewis Hamilton’s future remains uncertain as first car launch date set ahead of new season

Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing

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Despite Lewis Hamilton’s future in Formula One still remaining uncertain due to a fall out with the FIA, other teams up and down the paddock are looking towards the new season as Aston Martin has become the first team to announce its 2022 car launch, opting for a virtual event on February 10.

The AMR22 will be unveiled at Gaydon, the home of Aston Martin Lagonda, in a special event to be broadcast online alongside drivers Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, which is the team’s first car designed to F1’s new technical regulations.

It’s the second year the team returns under the famous Aston Martin branding after switching from Racing Point at the end of the 2020 season.

“Key members” of the team are said to be also in attendance after the departure of team principal Otmar Szafnauer.

Szafnauer has been heavily linked with a switch to Alpine late into the 2021 season but denied a move was ever on the cards and insisted that he would not be switching to his rivals before the announcement.

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A team statement: “Otmar Szafnauer has left the company and his role at Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 Team will be managed within the leadership team until a replacement is appointed.

“We would like to thank him for the service provided to the team over the past 12 years and wish him well for the future as he will undoubtedly take on new challenges.

“Fortunately, we are led and managed by a strong group of individuals, and we are comfortable to take a little time to explore options before announcing a new team structure.”

However, with the depature of Marcin Budkowski, who left his role as executive director at Alpine this week, it seems a job offer could be on the cards for Szafnauer.

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F1’s first test takes place between February 23-25 at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya with the future of Hamilton still unclear as an FIA investigation continues.

Hamilton is reportedly said to be awaiting the outcome of the investigation, which saw the seven-time world champion beaten to the title by Max Verstappen during the final race of the season under controversial circumstances.

On Thursday, FIA President Mohammed Bin Sulayem confirmed an investigation was ongoing after race director Michael Masi influenced the outcome of the Drivers’ Championship, and outlined the next steps from the governing body.

A statement read: “The outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 Commission in February and final decisions will be announced at the World Motor Sport Council in Bahrain on March 18.”

The first race of the season gets underway a week later, with Mercedes said to be hopeful the FIA will take the appropriate action.

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