Abu Dhabi 2021 comparison made as Lewis Hamilton questions FIA transparency

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton looks contemplative at the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP with Susie Wolff in a small circle

Susie Wolff's action against the FIA has received the support of Lewis Hamilton

Sky F1 pundit Naomi Schiff has backed Lewis Hamilton’s calls for greatest transparency from the FIA, claiming moments like Abu Dhabi 2021 have “caused a lot of distrust” with F1’s governing body.

Susie Wolff, the F1 Academy managing director and wife of Mercedes team boss Toto, announced on Wednesday that she has filed a criminal case against the FIA after suggestions of a conflict of interest last December.

Lewis Hamilton’s FIA comments gain Sky F1 pundit support

Wolff’s action received the support of Hamilton, who accused the FIA of a lack of transparency and accountability ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

“I’m incredibly proud of Susie,” Hamilton told media in Melbourne.

“I think she’s so brave and she stands for such great values. She’s such a leader and in a world where often people are silenced, for her to be standing up sends such a great message.

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“I love that she’s taken it out of this world, fighting it from the outside, because there is a real lack of accountability here within this sport, within the FIA, things that are happening behind closed doors, there is no transparency.

“There is really no accountability and we need that; I think the fans need that. How can you trust the sport and what is happening here if you don’t have that?

“Hopefully, this stand that she’s taken now will create change, will have a positive impact, and especially for women.

“It is still a male-dominated sport, and we’re living in a time where the message is, ‘if you file a complaint, you will be fired’, and that is a terrible narrative to be projecting to the world.

“So, especially when we’re talking about inclusivity here in the sport, we need to make sure that we are staying true to the core values here.”

Hamilton, who also said he “never has” supported current FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, was infamously denied a record eighth World Championship in highly controversial circumstances at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where the FIA race director’s failure to implement the Safety Car rules correctly saw him dethroned by Max Verstappen.

Appearing on Sky’s coverage of the opening practice session at Albert Park, Schiff claimed incidents such as Abu Dhabi have cast a large shadow over F1’s governing body over recent years.

Asked about Hamilton’s intervention, she said: “I do believe it’ll have an impact.

“I think – outside of the Formula 1 bubble, just even among the fans – there’s been a lot of opinion, there’s been a lot of questions raised as to how matters have been handled of late.

“I think back to 2021, what happened in Abu Dhabi caused a lot of distrust with the audience and the FIA, so I think for them it’s incredibly important for there to be some level of transparency.”

“We understand that not all of these issues that have happened recently can be handled in the same way because they’re not necessarily all issues that the FIA have access to, but one thing we want to see is consistency.

“And if they’re going to handle things certainly in one way, then we expect to see the same level of expectation across the board.”

Schiff’s fellow pundit, the former HRT and Lotus driver Karun Chandhok, added: “I think it is a question of across the board.

“With stewards’ decisions, why don’t we have a camera in the stewards room explaining every one of these decisions? Or even after the event? Come and tell us why somebody got penalised.

“I think that’s the sort of thing that everyone would appreciate a bit more.

“We’ve seen in the last four or five years that Lewis is a grown-up on the grid.

“He’s willing to bring forward issues that are outside of the bubble of just cars going around around the track, he talks about the wider context of what’s happening in the world and this was no different.

“Whether the impact is felt by the right people within the sport – within the FIA, within Formula 1 – that is the key point here.

“I think it’s great for Lewis to highlight it and I do hope that it’s heard by the right people in the sport.”

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