The BBC and Sky Sports News have reported that Hamilton is yet to decide whether he will return to F1 for the 2022 season amid an ongoing inquiry into the hugely controversial conclusion to last year’s world championship. 

Hamilton lost the championship to Max Verstappen on the last lap of the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi after FIA race director Michael Masi failed to apply the correct regulations during a late Safety Car period. 

Mercedes dropped its appeal against the result of the race after the FIA announced it was launching a detailed inquiry into the events that unfolded in Abu Dhabi. 

The governing body said it would conduct a “detailed analysis and clarification exercise” around the season finale after admitting it was “tarnishing the image of the championship”. 

According to the BBC, Mercedes withdrew its appeal after agreeing a ‘quid pro quo’ with the FIA that would see Masi and head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis removed from their positions for the 2022 season. 

Mercedes has reportedly denied that such a deal was made. 

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff described Hamilton as “disillusioned” in the wake of the events of Abu Dhabi and said he could not guarantee the Briton would return to fight for a record-breaking eighth world title this year. 

Hamilton has remained silent ever since he conducted an initial post-race interview with former McLaren teammate Jenson Button in parc ferme. 

Speculation surrounding Hamilton’s future has been rife in the weeks that have followed amid talk the seven-time world champion could take a sabbatical, or decide to walk away from F1 for good. 

"It is understood that Mercedes want to see something tangible,” Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater said of the FIA's investigation. 

“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.”

The recently-turned 37-year-old is contracted to Mercedes until the end of the 2023 season after signing a fresh two-year contract last year. 

Pre-season testing for the 23-race 2022 season - F1’s longest-ever campaign - gets underway on 23 February, ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on 18-20 March.