Wolff and Hamilton snub FIA Prize Giving Gala

Date published: December 16 2021 - Mark Scott

Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, talking in Qatar. November 2021.

Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton have made their point loud and clear as neither will attend the FIA Prize Giving Gala in Paris on Thursday night.

The 2021 World Championship battle ended in controversy at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Mercedes and Hamilton emerging from it very much on the losing side.

Hamilton had controlled much of the race and seemed on his way to that record eighth World Championship, but Nicholas Latifi’s crash late on changed everything as the Safety Car came out.

Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen pitted for fresh soft tyres and retained P2, but there was a question mark over the chances of racing resuming, while there were also several lapped runners between the championship protagonists.

Ultimately there would be one final lap of racing, but the unprecedented call was made to clear only the drivers separating Verstappen and Hamilton, allowing Verstappen to put his fresher tyres to use and make the overtake at Turn 5, going on from there to capture his first World Championship.

Wolff had argued with race director Michael Masi over the radio regarding his decision, ordering that Hamilton was reinstated as winner. Two post-race appeals were then later waived off.

Mercedes did lodge their intention to appeal the knocking back of one of their original protests, relating to Article 48.12 of the sporting regulations, which determines that all lapped cars must pass the Safety Car, should the ‘lapped cars may now overtake’ instruction is distributed on the official messaging system.

The team have since decided against going through with it, following an FIA promise to investigate the events of Abu Dhabi – but that does not mean Mercedes have forgiven and forgot.

Sergio Perez defends against Lewis Hamilton. Abu Dhabi December 2021

The FIA will hold their prize-giving event on Thursday evening to bring a close to the 2021 season, but neither Mercedes’ team boss Wolff or Hamilton will be in attendance, despite the fact that Mercedes did win the Constructors’ Championship for an eighth season in succession.

Mercedes’ chief technical officer, James Allison, will be there to collect the trophy instead of Wolff.

The top three drivers in the final standings are required to attend under Article 6.6 of the sporting regulations, but despite finishing P2, Hamilton has followed his boss in snubbing the gala.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Wolff said, as quoted by Motorsport.com: “Both of us won’t be there, I won’t be there because of my loyalty to Lewis and because of my own personal integrity.

“But we will be represented as a team by James Alison, who will be taking the trophy on behalf of all the people in Brackley and Brixworth who should celebrate our eighth consecutive world championship title, who deserve to be celebrated, because it’s a fantastic achievement that we are very proud of.

“In a way I’m trying to compartmentalise the anger on the outcome of the F1 Drivers’ Championship and, on the other side, the pride and the joy of having achieved something unprecedented and that needs to be celebrated.”

 

 

This follows Mercedes’ absence from the FIA ‘champions’ photoshoot, where their two title-winning challengers were expected to join a host of other victorious cars from a range of categories.

Mercedes’ Formula E double Championship-winning car was also not present for the shoot.

 

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