Lewis Hamilton issues scathing remark on FIA president as calls for ‘transparency’ continue

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton walks through the paddock at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton walks through the paddock.

Lewis Hamilton said he “never has” supported FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem as Mercedes team-mate George Russell joined the calls for transparency.

Hamilton spoke out after what has been a turbulent few months for the FIA, with news that Sulayem had been cleared by the FIA’s Ethics Committee over alleged interference in the 2023 Saudi Arabian and Las Vegas Grands Prix, followed by F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff confirming she has filed a criminal complaint in France against the governing body.

Lewis Hamilton ‘never has’ supported FIA president

Wolff found herself named in a unsubstantiated and swiftly debunked media report suggesting herself and her husband, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, were sharing confidential information as part of their roles, the FIA launching and quickly concluding an investigation which found no proof of the allegations that were firmly denied from the outset.

And when speaking to media ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton made his stance on the FIA president clear.

“He never has,” Hamilton bluntly declared when asked if Ben Sulayem still has his backing as FIA president.

Hamilton, like Wolff, called for greater “transparency” from the FIA, as he stressed that fans will struggle to “trust the sport”.

“Well, firstly, I’m incredibly proud of Susie,” said Hamilton.

“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.

“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?

“So 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.”

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“Transparency” was also the word for Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell, who stressed that without all the facts, people will always believe that “there’s something being hidden”.

“I think as drivers, we have a role within the teams and you trust that the leaders in this sport have the best interest at their heart, rather than their own interests,” he said.

“And I think that goes back to the transparency side of things. If things are transparent, and we see the outcome of these cases, we all have a chance to judge for ourselves with all of the facts and figures in front of us.

“But when we don’t have the facts and figures, and there is no transparency, you always think there’s something being hidden.

“And that’s why I think it’s so important for the sport now as Lewis has said to send the right message to everybody who’s supporting Formula 1, watching Formula 1, wants to be involved in Formula 1, that things aren’t just swept under the carpet.”

Hamilton and Russell are preparing to go racing with Mercedes for the third time in F1 2024 at the upcoming Australian Grand Prix.

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