New FIA president: Hamilton ‘not 100% ready to respond’

Mark Scott
Lewis Hamilton speaking to the media. Abu Dhabi December 2021

Lewis Hamilton speaking to the media after Abu Dhabi qualifying. Abu Dhabi December 2021

New FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has revealed that he has made an attempt to communicate with Lewis Hamilton ahead of the 2022 season.

Ever since the highly controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi when an eighth World Championship title slipped away from what looked like a very firm grasp, Hamilton has remained completely silent on all matters – but has made two public appearances since when receiving his knighthood and returning to Mercedes base to say goodbye to his now former team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

At the FIA, there has been a changing of the guard with Ben Sulayem replacing Jean Todt following his maximum third four-year term and one of Ben Sulayem’s first acts has been to get in touch with the seven-time World Champion.

However, he is still awaiting a response from Hamilton, who along with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff chose to snub the FIA Prize Giving Gala at the end of the season.

“I’ve sent him messages,” Ben Sulayem said as the 2022 Dakar Rally began in Jeddah.

“I don’t think he’s 100 per cent ready to respond right now. We don’t blame him. I understand his position, as a driver, obviously, he is at a different level.

“But there are also rules. As you read in the press, the new president is going to sanction; of course they [the media] spice things up a lot with what is important for others.

“But for me it’s not particularly related to a certain driver or a certain team. It’s general. There are rules we have to respect, and we have to respect the integrity of the FIA.

“And I can’t judge anyone until I know the exact facts.

“In fact, my first objective is to go through the whole Abu Dhabi file.

“I think of course by not being at the gala, it’s something that Lewis and his team knew.

“But at the end of the day, we’re human too. There was stress and pressure.

Ben Sulayem is confident that all parties can move on from the events from Abu Dhabi and help set a better example in future.

He continued: “Personally, I’m convinced that everything will work out. You can’t think about the past. There are many things to think about. We are the ones who embody the future.”

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