F1 journalist Scott Mitchell says Lewis Hamilton “felt the race and title fight was ‘manipulated’”, and “it should be a leading priority for the FIA to understand the severity of that”.
Amid recent reports surrounding Lewis Hamilton’s media silence since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, more and more journalists are calling the FIA out for their lack of tangible response to the controversial ending of that race.
BBC’s Andrew Bensons reported that Hamilton’s future might depend on what the FIA will do regarding the disputed decisions that race director Michael Masi made in the final laps of the race, which basically handed the world title to Max Verstappen.
The Race’s Scott Mitchell joins in by calling the FIA out and urging them to take the matter very seriously.
“The longer the silence, the stronger the speculation around Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 future grows,” Mitchell wrote.
“But his silence is not the problem, it’s a consequence of inaction elsewhere – and his future is getting tangled in a mess of someone else’s making.
“Hamilton’s silence has been interpreted by some as the actions of a sore loser, accompanied by inevitable criticisms and advice he should just accept what happened and move on, or ‘come back stronger’.
“Those who believe that underestimate the severity of what happened in Abu Dhabi and have also misplaced who is responsible for bringing closure to this matter.
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“Team and driver were, and probably still are, deeply hurt by what happened in Abu Dhabi and there was a clear sense of betrayal in [Toto] Wolff’s words last month.”
While announcing that Mercedes would not launch an appeal over what happened in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff very publicly questioned the fairness and sporting integrity of the decisions that were made.
“For Wolff to question F1’s authenticity and fairness was huge, especially as we can believe he was expressing a view Hamilton also shared, especially as Hamilton prides himself in being a principled person and racing driver,” Mitchell continued.
“That makes what happened so difficult for him to stomach. According to Wolff, Hamilton will conclude that he needs to continue because he’s still performing at such a high level.
“But it may well come down to whether he has faith in the system around him.”
In the immediate aftermath of the race the FIA’s World Motorsport Council announced they will perform an analysis of what had happened, to determine how they can avoid similar situations in the future, but Mitchell argues they have not really done enough.
“With radio silence since the messaging around the post-Abu Dhabi World Motor Sport Council meeting, and a less than convincing first address of the topic by new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, you have to wonder how seriously the FIA is taking the prospect that its actions (and now its inaction) could drive Hamilton out of F1.
“It’s vital that any driver trusts the system that governs the sport. And Hamilton’s not just any driver, he’s one who felt the race and title fight was “manipulated” – it should be a leading priority for the FIA to understand the severity of that.
“This is the self-styled pinnacle of motorsport. And it’s the responsibility of the FIA to prove to Hamilton it is up to that standard.
“F1 as a whole needs to move on from this incident at some point but moving on doesn’t mean sweeping the matter aside and letting F1 get on with its 2022 season.
“It means the FIA addressing its shortcomings, Hamilton trusting the system, and F1 recovering from the damage inflicted by the finale.
“Keeping quiet and hoping this all blows over by the new car launches, pre-season testing and a new championship, is not an acceptable outcome for F1 and it would be an insult to Hamilton.
“It is not his responsibility to turn the other cheek. And in turn, it’s not his silence since December that’s a problem, it’s the FIA’s,” Mitchell concluded.