A fan in attendance at the FIA Prize Giving ceremony in Azerbaijan claims to have come into possession of Lewis Hamilton’s third-place trophy.
Hamilton flew to Azerbaijan in Baku on Friday in order to attend the annual FIA Prize Giving Gala, with the seven-time F1 World Champion picking up his trophy for finishing third in the 2023 Championship standings behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Bizarrely, shortly after the ceremony, a fellow attendee of the Gala claimed to have come into possession of the trophy handed over to Hamilton – posting pictures of the trophy and stating the prize was now in his own home.
What happened to Lewis Hamilton’s third-place trophy?
An X (formerly Twitter) profile named Nihad Nesirli posted pictures of the night in Baku, posing alongside F1 luminaries such as Max Verstappen as the Dutch driver picked up his World Championship trophy.
But it was the profile’s posting of pictures of the FIA trophy handed over to Hamilton earlier for finishing in third place that raised eyebrows.
A post on the profile, complete with pictures, summed up the night, saying: “Checking rocketship RB19, meeting royal family, talking with Max and receiving his award from Sir Lewis Hamilton.. What A Night !!! WILDER THAN MY WILDEST DREAMS!”
Another post then posted a picture of the trophy on what looks like a mantlepiece in a home, saying: “Hello. I was at the Gala yesterday. Lewis Hamilton gave me the award and left. I have the prize at home now.“
PlanetF1.com now understands from a source close to the situation that Hamilton left the trophy on a table backstage after an official at the ceremony offered to take care of it and send it on to Hamilton as the World Champion left the venue.
Mercedes are believed to be currently trying to discover what happened to the trophy after all personnel from the team had left the Gala.
A statement from Mercedes has clarified Hamilton did not gift his trophy to anyone.
“Immediately after leaving the stage, and as has been done at previous prizegivings, Lewis accepted the offer from officials for the trophy to be sent on to the team and therefore left it in their care,” said the statement.
“We can confirm he did not give the trophy to anyone ‘as a gift’ as has been speculated.”
A source has indicated to PlanetF1.com that Hamilton’s trophy was taken for safe-keeping and later dispatch by an official, to follow the seven-time World Champion home but, at some point after being relinquished, the trophy became separated.
The exact whereabouts of the trophy are currently unknown, but PlanetF1.com understands that, as Mercedes confirmed, Hamilton did not hand over his trophy as a memento to a fan.
The account has since posted an explanation for why the trophy appears to be in their possession, saying: “Hello, good evening. I am very disappointed to see messages written to me like thief or something.
“First of all I want to say I didn’t steal anything from anywhere. This is just a misunderstanding. Lewis Hamilton put the award on the table. I asked him if I could take the prize.
“He said to me, yes, you can take the prize. And I thought he gifted me the award. But now, after seeing the statement from Mercedes, I understand that Lewis did not gift me the award. He mistakenly thought I was the FIA official in charge of the award.”
As of Sunday night UK time, the trophy is still not in Mercedes or FIA hands. On Monday morning, the account claiming to have possession of the trophy was deleted from X.