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Max Verstappen has urged rival Lewis Hamilton to continue racing in Formula One, following reports the Mercedes driver is considering quitting the sport.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted Hamilton could walk away after becoming “disillusioned” in the wake of the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton missed out on a record-breaking eighth world title after being overtaken by Verstappen on the final lap at the Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday, following a series controversial calls from FIA race director Michael Masi.
Wolff has claimed Hamilton was “robbed” of the title and admits he has received no assurances from the British driver that he will race again next season.
However, Verstappen is hopeful that Hamilton, who was knighted on Wednesday, will continue in the sport.
"Of course, I can understand that the first few days, after a race like that, you're not happy,” said Verstappen, after collecting his world title at the FIA Awards in Paris on Thursday.
"You should also understand this is racing and these things can happen to you.
"I think he should just look back at what he has achieved, and that should give him a lot of comfort and that drive to keep on going.
"He is still trying to challenge for that eighth title, and he can do that again next year, so I don't see any reason why to give up or stop now."
Asked whether he feels sorry for Hamilton, Verstappen added: "No, I don't feel sorry but I can understand it can be very painful.
"At the end of the day, that's racing as well. You just have to keep fighting until the end and you know that in racing anything can happen.”
Wolff says he is unsure if himself and Hamilton “will ever get over” Sunday’s race in Abu Dhabi.
"Lewis and I are disillusioned at the moment,” he said.
“We are not disillusioned with the sport - we love the sport with every bone in our body and we love it because the stopwatch never lies.
"But if we break that fundamental principle of sporting fairness and authenticity, then suddenly the stopwatch doesn't become relevant anymore because we are exposed to random decision-making, it is clear you may fall out of love with it.
"You start to question if all the work you have been putting in - all the sweat, tears and blood - can actually be demonstrated by performance on track, because it can be taken away randomly.
"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.”
When asked if Hamilton intends to see out the remainder of his contract with Mercedes, which is due to run until the end of 2023, Wolff added: “I would very much hope that Lewis continues racing because he's the greatest driver of all time.
"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 on Sunday, also because he is a man with clear values and it's difficult to understand that that happened.
"I need to do the utmost I can to help him to overcome his imminent feelings in order to ensure that he returns strong, with a love of the sport, and trust in the decision-making of the sport next year.
"We wish very much that this will be the case."
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