The FIA revisiting Lewis Hamilton’s amble across the race track in Qatar has been labelled as “inconsistent” by a Le Mans winner.
Following his retirement from the Qatar Grand Prix after a Turn 1 collision with Mercedes team-mate George Russell, Hamilton walked across the active racetrack in order to get back to the pitlane – the race itself neutralised under a Safety Car at that point.
The FIA examined the incident and handed Hamilton a large fine of €50,000. Picking up an official reprimand, half of the fine was suspended on condition that Hamilton does not commit any further transgressions between now and the end of the season.
FIA kicks off controversy by re-examining Lewis Hamilton incident
While the matter was seemingly over and done with, the governing body re-opened the can of worms by confirming that they would be revisiting the incident.
Acknowledging Hamilton’s contrition after visiting the stewards in Qatar, a statement from the FIA said: “However, in view of his role model status, the FIA is concerned about the impression his actions may have created on younger drivers.”
This position has been decried by various pundits, including Alex Brundle and Karun Chandhok, with the Sky F1 broadcaster pointing out that Max Verstappen had walked on the track tarmac to get back to the pits following a collision with Hamilton at Monza 2021.
This week’s episode of the On Track GP podcast discussed the topic, with Jamie Chambers saying that Hamilton’s position as F1’s most visible driver makes his actions more influential.
“We don’t talk about Formula 1 drivers in the way that we talk about football and rugby players,” he said.
“We talk about them as a personality that is integral to the team in the car. Lewis, more so than most, is very much in the public eye. He has a very outspoken opinion on a lot of things and he has a huge following.
“As soon as Lewis does something like that, we don’t say, ‘Oh, Hamilton got out of the car and walked away’, we say: ‘Lewis got out of the car and walked across the track’. It’s hugely influential.
“When a driver shirks rules like that, a race driver doing that, it’s a huge no-no. It’s setting a dangerous precedent.”
Richard Bradley: I don’t like how the FIA has gone about it
2015 Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 winner Richard Bradley explained how Hamilton would have been feeling from a driver’s perspective.
“I feel for Lewis because I’ve been in that position before and you’re completely wired, full of adrenaline,” he said.
“The only thing you want to do at that point is get back to your transport and just sit down in the corner alone, and you’re completely wired.
“So that’s the only thing you’re thinking about at that time.”
While understanding Hamilton’s feelings at the time, the British driver pointed out that how the FIA has set about revisiting the issue has been questionable.
“I don’t like the way that the FIA have gone about it,” he said.
“Lewis is an entity and someone we look up to, and he’s an icon. But, for any other driver, we look at drivers as just another helmet. We don’t care whether it’s Max Verstappen or someone down the road – it’s a helmet.
“You’ve seen plenty of examples of drivers walking across the circuit in the past and nothing’s been said or done about it. I think a prime example was when Max and Lewis actually crashed at Monza Turn 1 at that chicane – Max walked across the track.
“Apparently – I haven’t seen this – but Sargeant apparently did it at Suzuka [under red flags – editor].
“I didn’t see it myself, but I read about it. I feel that it’s almost like they’ve picked on this particular example because it is Lewis and they want to make a stand.
“I feel like if they’d worded it there’s a continuing trend of this happening and we need to address it, I think that’d be actually fair enough.
“The one thing we always complain about with the officials and the FIA is inconsistencies, and this isn’t doing anything to help that.
“If the FIA came out and said, ‘OK, this is a precedent, we want to try and stop’, I’m all for it.
“But I think the way they’ve singled out that incident without referring to others just goes against the consistency.”