Lewis Hamilton has missed the FIA Prize-Giving Gala, in protest of the controversial decisions made at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which cost him an almost guaranteed record-breaking eighth championship title.
Article 6.6 of F1’s sporting regulations says: “The drivers finishing first, second and third in the Championship must be present at the annual FIA Prize Giving ceremony”, so there has been much talk about the possibility of some kind of penalty for Hamilton.
When asked about this, newly elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said that if a breach of the rules is proven, “there is no forgiveness in this”.
This led to a lot of speculation over what kind of penalty could be handed out. The two most talked about options are a fine or a reprimand.
In the case of a fine, Lewis would have to pay the determined amount and there would be no further consequences. However, in the case of a reprimand, things get a little bit more complicated.
FIA’s regulations say that if a driver receives three reprimands in a twelve-month period, and two of those are relating to his actions on the track, he would then be given a ten-place grid penalty at the next race.
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More specifically, section 18.2 of the Sporting Regulations says:
“Any driver who receives three (3) reprimands in the same championship will, upon the imposition of the third, be given a ten (10) grid place penalty for the race at that event. If the third reprimand is imposed following an Incident during a race the ten (10) grid place penalty will be applied at the driver’s next event. The ten (10) grid place penalty will only be imposed if at least two (2) of the reprimands were imposed for a driving infringement.”
Since Lewis already has two reprimands for on-track incidents, for exceeding track limits at the Mexican Grand Prix, and for impeding Nikita Mazepin during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix practice session, a third reprimand could lead to a grid penalty in the first race of the 2022 season.
The outcome also depends on who will review Lewis’ infringement, the International Tribunal or the stewards at the next race. The decision over this falls on the FIA president.
However, considering the controversy that has arisen after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it seems highly doubtful that the FIA would go as far as forcing a grid penalty.