FIA open unnecessary can of worms with Lewis Hamilton investigation

Sam Cooper
Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton’s status as a role model appears to have got him into trouble.

The FIA have risked opening a can of worms after they deemed Lewis Hamilton’s position as a “role model” a contributing factor to an investigation.

There is never a dull moment in Formula 1.

A week after the Qatar Grand Prix and a few days after the many clouds of dust that were kicked up onto the track had settled, the FIA decided to announce proceedings were not quite done just yet.

After media reports, a spokesperson confirmed that the FIA was going to take another look at Hamilton illegally crossing the track following his lap one crash with Mercedes team-mate George Russell.

You could be forgiven for asking yourself ‘wasn’t this dealt with at the time?’ and the answer to that particular question is…yes.

Standard procedure was followed. Hamilton was summoned to speak to the stewards, apologised for his actions and was handed a penalty of a reprimand and a pretty chunky fine. Job done. Case closed.

Except it wasn’t.

Perhaps motivated by the nasty incident during the FIA’s World Karting Championship finals in which British karter Joe Turney was hit by another competitor and suffered a compound fracture, the FIA have decided to take another look at the Hamilton incident.

The FIA have alluded that they do not want the punishment handed to Hamilton to become a precedent and yet they have managed to achieve the same result with another offence without targeting a driver.

Max Verstappen’s avoidance of grid penalties for impeding during qualifying in Suzuka was rectified by the FIA accepting they had made an error before confirming that would not be used as a precedent going forwards.

Why, then, is the Hamilton situation any different? Had the FIA informed the teams going into the next race at Austin that the punishment handed to Hamilton would not be considered the norm then no team would have taken issue and Hamilton would have been spared a public trial.

But even the reopening of the case is not the most troubling part, it’s the wording.

As part of their explanation as to why they were taking a second look, a spokesperson for the FIA said “in view of his role model status, the FIA is concerned about the impression his actions may have created on younger drivers.”

This leads onto the question – how does the FIA define a role model? Is it years in the sport? Social media followers maybe? Wins? Titles? By virtue of being a Formula 1 driver, their faces are shared across millions of TVs every week, so do rookies Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri also count as role models, too?

Last season, a four-time World Champion committed a similarly dangerous offence by driving a moped around the track with his helmet above his head and yet was Sebastian Vettel’s position as a “role model” cited in the explanation of the €5,000 fine he received?

Look further back in the history of Formula 1 and you could find a litany of incidents of high-profile drivers doing something potentially dangerous and yet never before has their “role model” status come into it. recommends

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It also begs the question: are different drivers punished dependent on their role model status?

Sargeant has driven in 310 fewer races than Hamilton and has 34 million fewer Instagram followers, does that mean he is free to do shuttle runs across the track as he pleases? As the most experienced member of the paddock, will Fernando Alonso be investigated if his foot even so much as touches the track?

It is a bizarre grey area that the FIA has needlessly brought up. While safety is of paramount importance, the FIA should have considered the optics of such an action. There is already a substantial belief that Hamilton has often been the subject of unfair treatment.

The sporting body’s insistence when it came to Hamilton removing his jewellery last season looked at a time to be spiralling out of control and almost resulted in him sitting out a race.

While that rule has long been in the rulebook, the insistence to enforce it seemed tailor-made to single out Hamilton in some people’s eyes. In the same aforementioned incident of Vettel driving the moped, he can be seen to have his wedding ring on and yet he was not threated with a race ban.

The ultimate takeaway from the FIA statement is why? Why could this not have been done behind closed doors? Why does being a “role model” have anything to do it? And why is it again Lewis Hamilton that is seemingly being singled out?

With Hamilton and the FIA to meet again this week in Austin to discuss the Qatar GP incident, we have (quite bizarrely) not heard the end of this.

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