Lewis Hamilton quizzed on ‘Piranha Club’ behaviour amidst Horner and FIA investigations

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton speaking in the press conference.

Lewis Hamilton is leaving Mercedes for Ferrari at the end of the year.

From the Christian Horner saga to allegations FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem tried to intervene over a race penalty, Lewis Hamilton is “disappointed” about the state of F1 today.

The 2024 F1 championship began last weekend under a cloud with the reigning World Champion Red Bull team dealing with the aftermath, and allegations, about their team boss Horner.

‘It definitely is an interesting time’

That, though, took a turn for the worse when the BBC reported that a whistle-blower claimed FIA President Ben Sulayem allegedly intervened to have a penalty given to Fernando Alonso overturned during the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The FIA has since confirmed that its compliance officer “has received a report detailing potential allegations involving certain members of its governing bodies” while its compliance department is now “assessing these concerns, as is common practice in these matters, to ensure that due process is meticulously followed”.

It’s fair to say it has not been a bright start to the new Formula 1 championship.

Hamilton went as far as to call it “disappointing”.

“As someone who loves the sport, it’s definitely disappointing to see what’s going on right now,” said the seven-time World Champ on the eve of the Saudi Arabian GP. “It doesn’t look good from the outside world, the outside looking in.

“I think it’s a really, really important time for the sport to really show and stick to its values, holding ourselves accountable for our actions.

“And it’s a really, really pivotal moment, I think, for the sport, in terms of what we project to the world, and how it’s handled. And it’s not been handled very well to this point.

“Transparency is really key. And I’m really, really hoping to see some progress moving forwards.

“I hope it’s not a year that continues to go on with this. But it highlights some of the issues we also have within the sport.

“And when we’re talking about diversity, inclusion, that inclusion for example, and making people feel comfortable in this environment, is key. And it’s clearly not the case.”

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Asked if this was the ‘Piranha Club’ behaviour that his former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis spoke of decades passed, Hamilton replied: “Yeah, kind of. I don’t really know what to say.

“This is not the part of the sport that I love. But you find these things, I guess, in business. It definitely is an interesting time.”

His team-mate, and Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director, George Russell added: “We want to see all of the facts and just have total transparency, really.

“We’re all racing here, we all want a fair and level playing field for us to showcase what we can do. I can’t really comment further.”

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