Lewis Hamilton’s deafening silence suggests the Mercedes star is seriously considering stepping away from F1 following his controversial world title loss to Max Verstappen. The Brit is angry with the FIA after Michael Masi’s decisions during the season-finale in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton has two years left on his Mercedes contract but Toto Wolff is unsure if his star man will return.
If the 37-year-old refuses to come back for the 2022 campaign then he has two options; take a sabbatical or retire.
Surpassing the Drivers’ Championship record he shares with Michael Schumacher will be on Hamilton’s mind so a year out will allow him to gather his thoughts before trying to cement his place as the greatest of all time.
However, history suggests that having a break from F1 may see drivers drop their level upon their return.
Schumacher had won five consecutive world titles up to 2004 but after a two-year drought, he retired in 2006.
Four years later the German legend returned for a spell with Mercedes, but he failed to win a single race, eventually being replaced by Hamilton in 2013.
Alan Jones also struggled to add to his 1980 world title when returned to the sport in 1985, four years after quitting.
The Australian only had one full season in 1986 in a below-par Haas, where he finished 12th.
But there are some success stories where Hamilton could look to copy the blueprint.
The late Niki Lauda came back refreshed and won the 1984 world title after having two years out of the sport.
Two-time champion Lauda quit in 1979 and returned for the 1982 campaign, winning the season-opener in California.
It took two full seasons before the McLaren ace added his third title, beating team-mate Alain Prost by half a point.
And Prost is another positive example to Hamilton and perhaps the clearest.
After narrowly missing out to Lauda in 1991 he was fired and took a year out.
When the Frenchman returned he won the world title at his first attempt with Williams.
If Hamilton is to take a year out then he will hope his fate follows a similar path to Prosts.
Of course, the state of the car to which the driver returns will have a major say on how successful their second spell in F1 is.
And there are big red flags that Hamilton may not get the same car or be at the same level if he steps away from F1.