Hamilton could be punished for F1 snub
Lewis Hamilton could be punished after the Mercedes star shunned the F1 awards ceremony in protest at the controversial conclusion to the season, the new head of motor racing governing body the FIA has said.
Hamilton was denied a record eighth world title in Abu Dhabi last weekend when Red Bull rival Max Verstappen overtook him on the final lap of the race in contentious circumstances.
Hamilton was gracious in public following his defeat but a radio exchange with his team later revealed that he believed the race had been “manipulated” due to decisions involving the safety car taken by race director Michael Masi.
Neither the British driver nor Mercedes team Toto Wolff were at the season-ending F1 awards ceremony on Thursday night in Paris, in a mark of protest against the handling of the race in Abu Dhabi.
According to newly-elected FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem, that could mean sanctions for the Mercedes driver.
“If there is any breach, there is no forgiveness in this,” said Ben Sulayem, who is a former rally driver and previously served on the FIA World Council.
“Forgiveness is always there. But rules are rules,” added the UAE official, referring to Hamilton’s obligation to attend as one of the championship’s top three drivers.
“I know Lewis is really sad about what happened. I would say he is broken.
"But we have to look into if there is any breach. [After] a few hours now as president, I cannot give answers without going back to the facts.”
I am truly honoured to be elected President of the @FiA. Thank you all so much. I am humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me and the team and we pledge to govern in the interests of all members. pic.twitter.com/9E7TiG0PyG— Mohammed Ben Sulayem (@Ben_Sulayem) December 17, 2021
Mercedes lodged two complaints against race officials in the aftermath of Hamilton’s defeat, both of which were dismissed.
They then announced their intention to appeal but dropped that process after talks with Hamilton.
“I spoke to Toto and he said to me: ‘I am not coming here,’” said Ben Sulayem of his discussion with the Mercedes team principle.
“I listened to him. When I listened, he started cooling down.
"We will look into the rules and make sure any situation like this that occurs in the future we will have an instant solution to it. There are so many areas we can improve.”
The new FIA boss said Hamilton, 36, was bound to be upset over the outcome of the race and the nature in which it ended, but added that “time is a fact that will cool.”
After what will be remembered as one of the most thrilling title duels in the motor sport’s history between two outstanding drivers with @LewisHamilton, @F1 has a new world champion. Congratulations to @MaxVerstappen#FIAPrizeGiving2021 🏆 pic.twitter.com/Qf0b3NZ7ZU— Jean Todt (@JeanTodt) December 17, 2021
After initially keeping his council, Wolff finally broke his silence this week to say that he and Hamilton felt “disillusioned” with the affair.
Wolff also cast doubt on whether the seven-time world champion would return next season.
“As a racer his heart will say I need to continue because he’s at the peak of his game,” said the Austrian.
“But we have to overcome the pain that was caused upon him on Sunday. He is a man with clear values.”