New FIA president: Hamilton can be given 'no forgiveness' for awards absence

HAM lead

Hamilton was absent from yesterday's prize-giving ceremony

Grand Prix Photo

New FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has said that Lewis Hamilton can be given “no forgiveness” for not attending the FIA prize-giving ceremony yesterday if a breach of the rules is found.

Both Hamilton and his team boss were not present at awards event yesterday, as a show of “disillusionment” with the way F1 is currently run after Max Verstappen dramatically snatched this year’s drivers’ title from the Englishman after controversial safety car restart procedure.

Mercedes technical director James Allison represented Mercedes instead as it picked up the constructors’ award, with Valtteri Bottas also making an appearance after finishing third.

By not turning up, Hamilton is apparently in breach of Article 6.6 of the rules which states: “The drivers finishing first, second and third in the Championship must be present at the annual FIA Prize Giving ceremony.”

Ben Sulayem was elected as the new FIA president to succeed Jean Todt today, winning 61.6% of the vote. One of his first tasks will be deeming if Hamilton has broken any regulation.

Safety car leads Lewis Hamilton in the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP

The safety car call ultimately deposed Hamilton from his championship-winning position

Lars Baron/Getty Images

“At the end of the day, rules are rules,” he said during his first press conference after being elected.

“So we are going to look into the side of where the technical rules are there to be employed and was he in breach? I have to look into it.

“Of course, we’ll have to be also be following our rules. But in the meanwhile, it doesn’t stop us from making a champion feel good about the sport, you know.

“It’s easy to be nice to people. And it is cheap to be nice. And it’s also to motivate people. But definitely, if there is any breach, there is no forgiveness in this.”

Ben Sulayem conceded that this is an exceptional circumstance for Hamilton, whilst still emphasising the regulations would be followed.

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“Forgiveness is always there, but rules are rules. We look at the rules.

“And I always say: rules are not made. A human made them…and they can be improved and changed by humans. So the rules are there to be improved.

“I know that Lewis is really sad about what happened and one word I would say is he’s broken. But we have to look if there was any breach.

“I cannot [say for now]. It’s just a few hours now I’ve been a president, and I’ve just started giving answers without going back to the facts.”

Meanwhile, outgoing president Jean Todt suggested that the FIA should have possibly come down harder on drivers and teams who had criticised the governing body this year.

Wolff and Red Bull boss Christian Horner, amongst others, have had harsh words for the FIA over some incidents this year.

Todt used an example from the French football league this year, comparing it to F1 in his speech.

“I was reading today in the French sport magazine, L’Equipe, the president of the Lyon Football Club, which is one of the most important teams,” Todt said.

“He has been forbidden for 10 games, because he spoke badly about the referee. So maybe we have been too permissive, you know.

“I feel it is important to have a dialogue between the governing body, between the teams, between the drivers, between the commercial rights holders. But it should not go against us.

“In the heat of the action, you have your own feeling. But on the other side, you have the race director, you have the stewards, and you have a lot of organisation. And are we perfect? We’re not perfect.”