As the Formula One season draws to a close, Lewis Hamilton finds himself in the familiar position of potentially running afoul of FIA regulations. The seven-time world champion, known for previous streaks of disobedience, faces a mandatory appearance at the FIA Awards Gala to secure third place in this year’s championship standings.
Hamilton, who has a history of skipping the official event, risks fines if he decides to skip this year’s gala yet again. The FIA’s requirement that the top three drivers attend the season-ending celebration means Hamilton is expected to be in Baku next month. His absence in 2021, following a controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi, resulted in a fine, which he later confirmed would be used to help underprivileged youngsters enter motorsport.
Hamilton’s approach to FIA commitments
In 2022, despite not attending the gala, Hamilton avoided fines as his sixth-place finish did not require his presence. This year, however, his improved performance obliges him to attend or face similar consequences to those imposed after the 2021 season.
Hamilton’s relationship with the FIA has been tumultuous, particularly after the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where a controversial decision by then Race Director Michael Masi affected the outcome of the championship. It has taken time for Hamilton to mend fences with the governing body, but his commitment to supporting the next generation of motorsport enthusiasts suggests a cooperative approach to any penalties imposed. In other words, he will pay a fine if he can mandate where his money ends up.
A system that questions whether such a process could still be deemed ‘a fine’ anymore.
A positive view of the Las Vegas GP
Despite the potential for off-track controversy, Hamilton was pleased with his racing experience at the recent Las Vegas Grand Prix. Despite finishing seventh, he enjoyed the overtaking opportunities and dynamics of the circuit, comparing it favourably to Baku and praising the event as a successful spectacle that went beyond mere showmanship.
“I’m really happy to have had a positive race and I’m really grateful that the race was so good,” he said.
“I don’t know how it was as a spectacle to watch but there was so much overtaking. It was like Baku, but better.
“I really wasn’t expecting the track to be so great, but the more and more laps I did, I just really loved racing. Lots of great overtaking opportunities. I think for all those who were so negative about the weekend, saying it’s all about the show, blah blah blah, I think Vegas proved them wrong.”
As the F1 community awaits Hamilton’s decision regarding the FIA Gala, his actions continue to underscore the delicate balance between individual expression and regulatory compliance in the world of Formula One. Perhaps even this evidences an attitude that Hamilton sees himself as a greater entity than the FIA.
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