FIA president weighs in on Lewis Hamilton’s suggestion to curb Red Bull’s advantage

Michelle Foster
FIA logo lit up at Mexican Grand Prix. Mexico City 2021

FIA logo lit up at Mexican Grand Prix. Mexico City 2021

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem won’t be studying Lewis Hamilton’s suggestion to hamstring Red Bull, after all Mercedes had their run and it’s now “Red Bull’s time”.

With nine wins from nine races, Red Bull have dominated this year’s championship with Max Verstappen well on his way to a third successive Drivers’ title while the team is almost 200 points up on second-placed Mercedes in the Constructors’ standings.

With such an advantage in hand, both in the standings and on the track, Red Bull could soon stop developing this year’s car and turn their attention to 2024’s.

FIA against punishing teams ‘for being better’

It had Hamilton suggesting an 1 August date for when “everybody can start” working on next year’s car at the earliest “so that no one can get an advantage from the next year – because that sucks.”

Red Bull have, as expected, scoffed at the suggestion pointing out that Hamilton never made such claims when he was the one romping to World title after World title.

The Milton Keynes squad, though, need not worry as FIA president Ben Sulayem has made it clear he’s against doing anything to deliberately hamstring the runaway championship leaders.

“If we go about what’s good and bad we’ll open the door,” he told The Associated Press. “I mean, was it good for Mercedes? Fair enough?”.

“It is (Verstappen’s) time, it’s Red Bull’s time. What do we do and punish the good kid? No, let’s go and make the other teams good. Nobody’s stopping the other teams from being better.

“We cannot punish people for being better, for trying harder. That is unfair.”

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Ben Sulayem’s comments are in line with that of F1 chief Stefano Domenicali who earlier this year ruled out “manipulating” the system to allow Red Bull’s rivals to catch up to them.

“It’s not correct because we cannot be seen as part of manipulation,” said the former Ferrari team boss.

“This is not correct, and this is not fair. I am not imagining at all this kind of approach.

“I think that the gap is between one team and the others.

“We need to consider that they [Red Bull] did an incredible job. It is true that the gap seems to be big, but we need to be prudent, because we know in life things can change very quickly.

“The others are very, very close. If you look at the gaps to the other teams, I think that they did an incredible job, [and it] needs to be rewarded.”

Verstappen with seven wins in nine races leading the Drivers’ Championship with 229 points, 81 ahead of his team-mate Sergio Perez, with Fernando Alonso in third 98 points off the pace.

Red Bull in turn are 199 points ahead of Mercedes with Aston Martin a further three back.

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