As the seven-time world champion snubs FIA prize-giving, Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff fears Lewis Hamilton could walk away from the sport.
Other than thanking Prince Charles after being awarded his Knighthood yesterday, Lewis Hamilton has maintained strict radio silence since last Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
As the Briton and his team boss, Toto Wolff snub tonight's official prize-giving gala, Wolff has admitted that he fears last Sunday's events could cause the Briton to leave sport.
"It's going to take a long time for us to digest what has happened on Sunday, I don't think we will ever get over it," Wolff told the media this morning, the first time he has spoken to the press since Sunday. "That's not possible," he admitted, "certainly not as a driver.
"We will never overcome the pain and the distress that was caused on Sunday, but many of the values and beliefs were kicked on Sunday. So I would very much hope that Lewis continues racing because he's the greatest driver of all time.
"When you look at it from the point of view of the last four races he was dominant, there was not even a doubt who won the race. And that was worthy of winning the world championship.
"So we will be working through the events over the next weeks and months. I think as a racer his heart will say 'I need to continue' because he's at the peak of his game, but we have to overcome the pain that was caused upon him on Sunday, also because he is a man with clear values and it's difficult to understand that that happened."
Asked specifically if he thought Hamilton could quit F1, Wolff replied: "I would very much hope Lewis continues racing because he is the greatest driver of all time.
"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."
On the eve of the Austrian Grand Prix, Mercedes announced that Hamilton had agreed a two-year extension to his contract.
F1 bosses will frantic at the very thought of Hamilton walking away from the sport, for the fact is that he is the undisputed star, for even as Netflix encourages a whole new fan-base, Hamilton is the driver most instantly recognisable by those around the world who don’t even follow F1.
Previously denied when he allegedly sought a stake in the business, F1 bosses may now have to reconsider.
Despite the ongoing rage over last Sunday's events, the sport is already banking - in every sense - on 2022, when Hamilton not only resumed battle with Verstappen, but has the added threat of George Russell within his own team.