Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

Hamilton makes £42,000 donation to FIA after meeting Ben Sulayem over awards snub

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has paid £42,000 (€50,000) to the FIA having discussed his absence from last year’s end-of-season prizegiving ceremony with president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

The FIA said money will be used to finance a place for a student from a disadvantaged background to receive a qualification relevant to motorsport.

Hamilton refused to attend the event despite being required to do so under F1’s sporting regulations as one of the drivers who finished in the top three positions in the world championship. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff also did not attend.

The pair stayed away from the ceremony in reaction to the controversial conclusion to last year’s world championship in Abu Dhabi. In the days leading up to the prizegiving Mercedes were considering whether to formally appeal over the result after FIA F1 race director Michael Masi contravened the rules in arranging a final-lap restart.

Hamilton confirmed today he has reached an agreement with the FIA over his no-show. “I think there will be some sort of fine around the gala,” he said. “But we’ve worked together to make sure that the money will be put together towards youth from underprivileged backgrounds getting into motorsports engineering.”

The seven-times world champion has made widening participation in motorsport one of his top priorities. In 2020 he founded The Hamilton Commission which produced a report on under-representation among some groups in motorsport. Last year he and Mercedes launched a charity, Ignite, to promote the teaching of science, technology, education and mathematics to groups that are under-represented in motorsport.

Hamilton met with Ben Sulayem yesterday and discussed the upcoming publication of the governing body’s investigation into the Abu Dhabi controversy. Ben Sulayem was elected as the first president of the FIA from the Middle East in December.

“I met Mohammed a long, long time ago through an event that we had 10 years ago or something like that in Dubai, so it’s good to see him in the position he’s in,” said Hamilton. “Again it adds to that diversity challenge that we’ve tried to overcome.”

The FIA issued a statement explaining the agreement Hamilton and Ben Sulayem had reached.

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FIA statement

Hamilton shared some of his experiences and findings from the report of the Hamilton Commission, authored by the Royal Academy of Engineering and published last year. One of the key factors identified upon which commitment to Diversity and Inclusion relies is the implementation of initiatives that are accessible to underrepresented groups.

The FIA President noted the important foundational work done by the FIA in recent years with projects such as FIA Girls on Track, and commended the commitment shown by Hamilton in projects such as Mission 44 and Ignite.

In the spirit of commitment to building a more diverse sport in the future, the FIA President gave his full support to Hamilton’s decision to make a donation of €50,000 that will be used to support a student from a disadvantaged background in achieving an educational qualification in motor sport. The FIA and Hamilton will work together with and independent panel and throughout this process.

Both the FIA President and Hamilton look forward to further positive steps in this area in 2022 and beyond, with Diversity and Inclusion being made a key priority for the Federation.

During the meeting, the circumstances that led to Hamilton’s absence from the 2021 FIA Prize Giving Ceremony were also discussed. Hamilton acknowledged the importance of celebrating the year’s achievements with the prize-winners from across motor sport and the FIA President reminded Hamilton of his obligation of sportsmanship, particularly in view of his status in motor sport.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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49 comments on “Hamilton makes £42,000 donation to FIA after meeting Ben Sulayem over awards snub”

  1. I thought negotiating with the officials about the type of penalty you’re going to get was Bad and Wrong?

    1. It happens all the time in many walks of life. As long is it’s not a matter that could potentially change the outcome of a race or championship, I’m OK with it.

      1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
        18th March 2022, 12:28

        Aka when Lewis does it, it’s okay for you. Typical

        1. Can’t remember you complaining when Max or Horner did these sort of deals in the past when sorting out a suitable punishment with the FIA?

      2. It happens in non-democratic societies. You can give your arguments and defend your case, but you can’t negotiate about penalty, once you’re sentenced guilty for something. What the heck is this mockery? What if Hamilton disagreed? Then nothing? Perhaps they could negotiate the last years championship too, ask Verstappen if he wants to be the champ and how much would he pay, then ask Hamilton if he wants it…

        1. Uhh… There’s usually an entire PHASE of most criminal and civil trials, called the “penalty” phase, where the penalty is negotiated.

          It’s only in totalitarian regimes where the penalty is handed down with no input, or in so-called “zero tolerance” cases.

    2. @red-andy It’s a penalty for failing to turn up to a ceremony, nothing to do with actual racing in any form. But then you know that.

      1. @david-br Still a breach of the Sporting Regulations.

        1. Can you remind us what the penalty is for missing this event?

          1. I don’t think there is actually a clearly defined penalty. So I guess in theory it could be anywhere from his licence being taken away/denied/suspended for some time to a sporting penalty, points on his licence, some form of “working it off” or indeed a fine.
            That would be up to the FIA to decide Ian.

  2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    18th March 2022, 12:31

    Can’t believe it’s been 3 months and the events of last year’s championship-deciding race still feel as fresh today as they did back then. Ordinarily, the feeling of injustice and wrongdoing tends to subside after a week or two but not in this case. I don’t know why that is. Certainly, Horner’s defiance and Putin-esque arrogance has contributed to this as did Lewis’ silence after the race.

    Even Masi’s sacking didn’t really improve the situation – in fact, it probably served as a confirmation of everyone’s suspicions. I’m not sure a report will correct this. It’d be akin to someone slamming the ball in soccer with their arm in a champions’ league final and scoring a goal, the whole world watching it clearly on their HD screens in slow motion as the player punches the ball in superman style with his feet horizontally as far away from his arms as possible, VAR showing countless replays of how the person slammed the ball with their hand intentionally and the refs deciding to allow the goal and then being sacked a month later for the decision while the other team runs around claiming they deserved the title.

    On top of that, the losing team gets a fine for not attending the gala to celebrate the other team’s victory.

    1. Ordinarily, the feeling of injustice and wrongdoing tends to subside after a week or two but not in this case. I don’t know why that is.

      Personally, for me, it’s down to 2 main reasons:
      1) There has been no admission whatsoever that there was any injustice or wrongdoing
      2) There is every chance that the same kind of injustice could happen again, as nothing has been done to close off the massive hole which has been opened in the rules to let the officials get ways with this travesty

      1. No injustice but they changed the rules on lapped cars passing, had to change the rules because no rules were broken so no injustice.

    2. That’s because the way the race was won was undisputable and very correct.
      There is some controversy about the way the race was resumed but by then the Mercedes strategy already failed completely.
      Of course the way mercede successfully tried to shift the blame to external factors was for a lot of blind hamfans proof of…
      They wanted to believe the narrative and found a way to keep repeating it.
      Keith is very supportive in this quest.

      1. That’s because the way the race was won was undisputable and very correct.

        Absolutely the opposite of the truth.
        Masi operated the unlap procedure incorrectly and totally broke the procedure for calling in the safety car (it was required by the rules to be brought in on the lap after the unlap procedure was completed).
        Debate the difference between “any” and “all” if you wish, although that excuse is tenuous, but the safety car was brought in one lap too soon.

        RBR seem to have the better car this year, so perhaps Max can get a real crown. It would be sad if all he ever attained was a “win” tainted by Masi.

        1. Masi created a situation. The win was very correct and had no relation with masi.
          Merc screwed up.. Again.

      2. Just another time you state your silly comment that Merc messed up the strategy. The RD cheated the sports, thats what happened.

      3. They wanted to believe the narrative and found a way to keep repeating it.

        Yes. Yes, you have.

    3. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      18th March 2022, 14:08

      Have to say it is down to the FIA for leaving it this long to conclude their investigation by setting today as the publication date of the result.

    4. RandomMallard
      18th March 2022, 17:34

      Certainly, Horner’s defiance and Putin-esque arrogance has contributed to this as did Lewis’ silence after the race.

      Right, I really don’t like Horner. Really don’t like him. My respect goes for him goes as far as admiring his loyalty to his team and his camp but not really any further. Some of his arguments can range from debatable at best to shocking at worst. Has managed to almost single-handedly (alongside Marko and Wheatley) turned me off Red Bull, and back to primarily supporting McLaren.

      But I think comparing him to Putin, in the current climate, is a bit too far. I think there’s a big difference between making some flawed arguments about the outcome of a sporting championship and launching an invasion against a neighbouring country.

      1. By lack of real argument this is a common thing for those “fans”.

  3. Would love to see a transcript of the negotiations. It all hinges on what is in the race report. If the report shows gross misconduct by Masi, Mercedes could litigate the championship if they want to, especially if Lewis was going to be banned from a race as a penalty.

    1. They should try, Toto would lose the last shred of respect he has around the paddock after his embarrassing behavior since Abu Dhabi last year. It’s been litigated in many ways already, multiple answers have been provided to Mercedes and to the public. Changes have been made to the sporting regulation. But nothing will satisfy the fanboys who can’t accept the defeat in last years WDC.

  4. I guess anyone getting á fine would like to choose the goal the money is spent to

    But where is the punishment then?

    1. @verstappen Handing over money? Does it make any difference to you who gets that money? Verstappen has agreed (negotiated) penalties in the past for misbehaviour, it’s along the lines of the philosophy behind ‘community service’ maybe.

  5. The fine seems ridiculous given the context of why he didn’t attend but ultimately he was contractually obliged to attend. Hard to argue he shouldn’t be fined given he signed a contract to do so. I think ensuring the fine is used for something valued by Hamilton still penalises him monetarily and shows he was in the wrong to not attend but gives a little concession to him given the unprecedented circumstances.

    1. still penalises him monetarily

      It would have to be a truly enormous fine for him to even notice it.
      Which it clearly won’t be.

      Fining a poor person makes a difference. Fining the wealthiest F1 driver ever is inconsequential.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        18th March 2022, 14:10

        But as we don’t know how big the fine is it is hard to judge…

        1. A rough calculation suggests that the ‘fine’ Hamilton is paying (or donation he is making, if you prefer) actually costs less than his earnings on the day of the FIA ceremony, @andyfromsandy.
          Not even a day’s pay. Not exactly a deterrent or punishment, is it…

          I’d call it a joke, except it’s far less useful.

    2. If negotiated well he could use it as a charitable tax deduction.

      That’s of course if he pays income tax ;)

  6. Hamilton says FIA fine for prizegiving snub will help underprivileged young racers

    So does that make it tax deductible ?

    1. depends
      if the fine passes through the fia, it just a fine that happens to go directly into x pool as opposed to y pool
      if lewis handles it and the fia just acts as a third party to ensure the punishment was carried out, then i believe there’s grounds for for the fine to be tax deductible

    2. Of course.
      I never had a fine and the privilege to decide the way the money was spent.
      It shows the level of Hamilton / Mercedes support in fia.

      1. Not even a parking fine?!

        1. Try to read. A fine and…

      2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        18th March 2022, 14:13

        Boohoo what a shame!

      3. You really need some help, man. All you do is go on and on about Ham/Merc.

        1. You’re funny :)

  7. This is how you turn a broken rule and its consequent punishment into great PR for your personal brand…
    Negotiate the punishment that you want.

    Pathetic and unsurprising.

    1. Some others do even better, turning a broken rule (albeit by others) into a world championship victory…

      1. They at least have to work for it..

  8. All teams and Drivers should do this, lol. Lets see where FIA draws the line.

  9. Pablo Castano
    18th March 2022, 15:24

    Good job on Hamilton for turning his punishment into a benefit for those less privileged. What a better world we would live in if all punishments were imposed in service to others.

  10. Good communication from Bin Sulayim… navigated quite a mess to serve the fine/penalty while keeping the peace

    1. Yes, although the headline is a bit misleading. Hamilton paid a fine, he didn’t make a donation. FIA will choose to allocate that fine for a certain purpose, but make no mistake. This was a fine, not a donation

      1. ‘The FIA gave his full support to Hamilton’s decision to make a donation…’

        Well that must be a fine as I’m desperate to portray it as one?

        1. According to a well informed source

          Hamilton explained: “There will be some sort of fine re the gala.

          “But we have worked together to make sure that the money will be put towards youth from underprivileged backgrounds getting into motorsports engineering.”

  11. Looking at Ham’s performance (or lack thereof) at the Bahrain GP practices I believe he is now devoid of motivation.
    Why work hard to be deprived of your rightful prize? And be fined on top of it!

    Expect Lewis to be a non scoring participant.

    Verstappen will be left to battle the Ferraris.

  12. What a great ‘gift’ if you calculate it percentage-wise to his yearly salary ….

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