Hamilton questions FIA’s sustainability merits after hosting Prize Giving in Baku

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton questions the sustainability merits of hosting the FIA Prize Giving Gala in Azerbaijan

In brief

Hamilton questions FIA’s sustainability merits

Lewis Hamilton feels the FIA would demonstrate greater commitment to sustainability by holding their annual Prize Giving Gala in Paris.

Last night’s event was held in Baku in Azerbaijan for the first time, with the body confirming that next year’s ceremony will be held in Rwanda in Africa. Hamilton believes that hosting the event away from the FIA’s headquarters in Paris goes against the organisation’s supposed push for sustainability.

“Whilst I really like Baku – it’s really a beautiful place – I have questions in my mind whether the FIA is really actually thinking about sustainability,” Hamilton said. “Because so many people flew out here, when the FIA is actually in Paris and it would have just been easier to have it there.

“But it’s a beautiful arena. It’s a night that we all get to come together and celebrate all the amazing achievements from all the great people that are working within the sport and all the amazing drivers that I wouldn’t get to see during the year as well.”

IndyCar hybrid delay the ‘right move’ – Rahal

IndyCar driver Graham Rahal believes the series is right to delay the introduction of its hybrid power units until after the Indianapolis 500.

The new 2.2L V6 hybrid turbo power units were supposed to debut at the beginning of the 2024 season at St. Petersburg. However, IndyCar confirmed this week that the power units would come into the series at an unspecified race following the Indy 500 in May.

In a post on social media, Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver Rahal described the call to delay the hybrid engines as “absolutely the right move.”

“While a hard decision, it’s the right one by IndyCar and the management team,” he said. “Teams like RLL, who haven’t been able to test the power units / car, would’ve been at a major competitive disadvantage, and any failures or delays would’ve been costly.”

Hartley injures foot

World Endurance Championship winning driver Brendon Hartley missed receiving his championship trophy with team mates Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa at the FIA Prize Giving Gala in Baku as he was recovering from injury at home in Monaco.

“I had a bit of an accident last week and broke a bone on my foot, so I’m currently doing my best to recover as quick as possible,” he said. “But it’s going to be fine for the first test [of 2024], which is around the 10th of January. So pretty confident I’m going to be fine, but I’m just doing everything I can to try and recover as quick as possible.”

Forza wins Best Racing Game

Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport claimed the award for ‘Best Sports/Racing Game’ at the 2023 Game Awards, beating out competition including EA’s F1 23.

In the combined category – in which EA Sports’ FC24 was the only sports game represented – the Microsoft-published racing game, the latest in the Forza Motorsport franchise, beat the official F1 game, The Crew Motorfest and Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged to be named the best racing and sports game of the year.

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Comment of the day

With Formula E moving to pay TV in the UK for the first time next season, Roger Ayles, finds the frantic, high-octane track action of the all-electric series a little difficult to follow at times…

A problem with Formula E for me is that while there does tend to be quite a lot of action, wheel-to-wheel battling and overtaking, it somehow never really feels all that exciting or memorable primarily because it often seems like it’s more about where everyone is in terms of energy management rather than because it’s a genuine competitive fight.

You’ll have drivers yo-yoing up and down the field going quite a bit slower or faster depending on what energy mode they are in (which can make you seconds faster or slower a lap) and then on top of that you have the Attack Mode which tends to see drivers lose places as they go through it only to quickly regain them due to having more power available for a period or when those who past them activate it themselves.

It just ends up making races feel very difficult to follow as there’s no real natural flow to them in terms of everyone’s pace which makes the races hard to read. So many times you’ll get to the end of a race and look at the finishing order and have no idea how everyone ended up where they are.

It just all ends up feeling rather contrived.
Roger Ayles

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Myles Woerner, Samuel Tatipamula and Julien!

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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31 comments on “Hamilton questions FIA’s sustainability merits after hosting Prize Giving in Baku”

  1. Floris Wijers has 48k followers on instagram. I hope he doesn’t get any online abuse for beating Max.

    Hamilton is right about flying around the world and then claiming to be sustainable. And next year in Africa? How very sustainable and green!

    1. notagrumpyfan
      9th December 2023, 7:26

      Floris Wijers has 48k followers on instagram. I hope he doesn’t get any online abuse for beating Max.

      Why would he get online abuse from his followers. Or why would Verstappen fans do this when his fan was celebrated on Verstappen’s own website.

      Maybe generalising unfounded accusations towards certain groups is online abuse in itself :p

      1. Coventry Climax
        9th December 2023, 9:46

        Maybe generalising unfounded accusations towards certain groups is online abuse in itself :p

        Maybe, if you try to read better, you’d see it’s not (and not meant as) an accusation, but a concern, and one that shows all the signs of having a solid foundation within the online ‘social’ community?

        1. But why is he concerrned that people would be abusive towards Wijers? That expectation does show a bias and sharing that concern, spreads the bias to others.

          As for actual facts, I checked his socials and the responses are extremely positive, with only a very rare negative comment, but those are not abusive either.

        2. notagrumpyfan
          9th December 2023, 13:09

          if you try to read better, you’d see it’s not (and not meant as) an accusation, but a concern

          Of course I understand that it is (written up as) a concern.
          But if you are sharing your concerns about a certain group starting online abuse, then you are in fact accusing them (based on historical facts or bias) of the likelihood of doing so.

          My ‘concern’ is that the OP is leading us to believe that Verstappen fans are more prone to dishing out online abuse (but maybe I DO need to read ‘better’ and see it merely as a general warning against such abuse).

          PS starting your sentence with “if you try to read better” is also a form of online abuse!

          1. Coventry Climax
            9th December 2023, 15:01

            OK, not the nicest way of putting it, about reading better. Sorry about that.
            I’m in favor of people sharing their concerns though. They are quite real and if not, that’s easily recognised. I see it as a barometer.
            If noone shares his concerns anymore, that’s where I start to get really worried, like in ‘Oh no, did I wake up in China or Russia today?’

          2. notagrumpyfan
            9th December 2023, 17:48

            No worries, accepted.

  2. Paris is pretty awesome. And we all know climate change and being ‘green’ has nothing to do with the environment.

    1. notagrumpyfan
      9th December 2023, 7:28

      And we all know climate change and being ‘green’ has nothing to do with the environment.


      1. pxcmac is right in a sense. For FIA, it’s about relevancy. With the rise in awareness of environmental issues now, it would look very bad on FIA if they don’t makes steps in this direction. They’re just future-proofing the sport yet don’t really believe in the core concept of the initiative

  3. Hamilton could always encourage everyone to ride bicycles to the next FIA gala – provided he did it himself too.
    How many of those people attending live in Paris, anyway? Every has to travel regardless, and they’ll all make their own personal choices on which modes of transport they utilise.
    For people not based in Western Europe, Baku might make more sense than Paris…

    ‘Essentially FOM sees the FIA as a contractor providing a service.’
    That’s the most accurate description I’ve seen of just how delusional Liberty is in all this – and how they’ve convinced so many people that this is the case and they are the real owners of “F1”. We see it on these comments pages daily.
    The reality is that Liberty is the contractor.

    And as for CotD – The relatively chaotic action (both racing and strategic) is exactly the intention of the series. It’s designed specifically to be as far from F1’s stale, predictable and inorganic monotony as possible.
    If you get to the end of an FE race and can’t figure out how the results came about, then they’ve done a great job of creating a competitive racing series that delivers intrigue and unpredictability throughout. You should watch it again.

    I’d even go so far as to suggest that this is what F1 wants to be in some ways. The direction(s) Liberty are taking F1 now are more and more akin to FE’s approach.

  4. FIA just wants to give other locations a chance.
    Neither do World & Euro Cups, World Expo, Olympics, etc., always occur in the same location or geographical region, so why should FIA’s annual Prize Giving ceremony necessarily be different in this regard.

    1. Coventry Climax
      9th December 2023, 9:10

      Because saying A but doing B does not give you any credibility on your stance regarding A?
      Because of a global shift in mindset regarding the necessity to at least do something?
      Because for an oil company based and backed organisation, it would do them good and give them credibility to show some goodwill and connection to the outside real world?
      Because for an organisation with a mouth that large, it would be nice if they first used their heads for a change?

      etc. etc.

  5. Why does the location of the prize-giving ceremony matter? If anything, hosting it in England would make sense because that’s where most (F1) teams are based. However, people from all over the world would still have to travel to attend, making the location somewhat irrelevant.

    If there were genuine concerns about sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint, Formula 1 could be organized at purpose-built motorsports parks, perhaps one for each continent, where teams have their bases and various track configurations are available. Complaining about the location of a single prize-giving event seems a bit hypocritical given the extensive travel involved in the jet-setting world of F1.

    1. Coventry Climax
      9th December 2023, 9:20

      I see your point.
      However, travelling to circuits is their core business, so to speak, where holding gala’s isn’t.

      The most sensible thing to do for the FiA, would be to publish the well founded and true reasons for their decisions -any decision, including this one- and face, deal with, recognise and improve on the comments they may receive on those decisions. Like grownups are supposed to, essentially, but certainly when they themselves claim to be role models.

      That’s a level of transparency that is not in the genes of the FiA though, meaning it’s probably like asking a hippopotamus to fly.

      1. I think questioning the sustainability of the FIA Gala is a bit of a stretch. The only way to make it truly ‘sustainable’ (whatever that means) would be to assess at the end of each year who won what and where they’ll be prior to the event, and then figuring out where the best location would be to accommodate the most efficient travel arrangement. Obviously that’s not reasonable. The FIA Gala is the ‘core business’ of the FIA. That’s where they award the major FIA Championships, so I don’t think that argument stacks up. I assume it has attendees from all the ASN representatives from around the world, so it doesn’t really matter where it is, there’s going to be global travel involved and whether its in Paris or Baku makes very little to no difference.

        F1 is the most unsustainable championship by quite some margin given the 24 race weekends and pitiful number of competitors. When karting hosts its world championships over one weekend, with 100s of competitors with far far far more sustainable race vehicles than F1 could ever dream of, maybe we should rethink F1 before the Gala.

        1. Coventry Climax
          9th December 2023, 10:31

          That’s where they award the major FIA Championships

          As far as I’m aware, those are won by summing the points totals at the end of each season, and not ‘awarded’.

          As to whether the location matters, I think Azerbaidjan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia etc are not the centre of motorsports. They do not host any of the teams, factories, infrastructure, educational systems, or even drivers at those highest levels – yet, I should add; they’re all spending unimaginably massive amounts of money on it, although it’s highly doubtful whether their motives are with motorsports first, let alone only. If that were the case, they’d start building said infrastructures first.
          Anyway, until then, going where most people already are, makes sense. However small the difference may be, there’s many more aspects to making these decisions, although the FiA seems to consistently fall for the money argument only. Basically sticking up a big finger in the direction of public opinion time after time.

          I do agree on your ‘rethinking F1’, but even if I have quite a few ideas on the subject, as well as principles to stick to, I doubt it’s something ‘we’ should do. I’ll just stick to my local clubs, thank you.

          1. The FIA Prize-Giving comes at the end of the FIA General Assembly. This is all very much ‘FIA business’. Having award ceremonies for the major FIA Championship titles is pretty much what all governing bodies do. So the ‘core business’ of whatever we’re talking about is perfectly valid. The FIA doing what all governing bodies do is not a deviation from ‘core-business’. The actual Prize-Giving ceremony has regulatory significance as well if you care to look at the FIA Sporting Code.
            For example:

            14.4.2 Furthermore, within the framework of an FIA
            Championship, cup, trophy, challenge or series, a petition for
            review may not, in any event, be brought less than four
            calendar days prior to the date of the FIA prize-giving
            ceremony concerned.

            Also we’re talking ‘sustainability’ here, not motivations of said locations. Baku is no less sustainable than anywhere else really.

          2. Coventry Climax
            9th December 2023, 15:27

            I don’t care what all governing bodies do, and have done for ages as ‘normal business’, using their holy Rule Books as an excuse to not change where everything in the world around us already has.
            Quite funny, as on the other hand they have no trouble changing rules on the fly or mid season, claiming clarification and progress.

            The only way to make it truly ‘sustainable’ (whatever that means) would be to assess at the end of each year who won what and where they’ll be prior to the event, and then figuring out where the best location would be to accommodate the most efficient travel arrangement. Obviously that’s not reasonable.

            It’s quite clear what sustainable means, even if it doesn’t suite you so you’d rather spread doubt and division. Assessing who won what and where is already finished business by the time the flag drops on the last event of the season. Figuring out where most people already are does not depend on the outcome of a season, but can be (should be?) figured out well in advance.
            So why on earth isn’t that reasonable? Sounds more like ‘I don’t waaant to’.

            Sorry I brought in more inconvenient context to the already flawed FiA decision making.

            I know it doesn’t make all the difference in the world, in terms of percentage of pollution over a whole season, but that’s not the point. It’s the message they send out that is.

          3. As to whether the location matters, I think Azerbaidjan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia etc are not the centre of motorsports.

            Well, if you’re looking for a venue that minimises travel I’m sure there’s a venue or two in the Northampton and Milton Keynes patch, and if you want one with a handy track for some exhibition races there’s some obscure facility at a place called Silverstone.

  6. So mister Hamilton, do all the participants live in Paris? Or do they still have to travel to Paris in some shape of form?

    Same nonsense as saying F1 isn’t sustainable because they go from Spain to Canada back to Austria. Do they actually think no one travels home in between the races? It doesn’t matter where they race in which order, they all travel from home to a race and back home again.

    1. I don’t think ‘everyone’ travels home between every race. Certainly not on double or triple headers. But more importantly, all thr freight definitely doesn’t. The cars and all the equipment will be shipped directly in most cases, and that is probably responsible for more emissions than the personnel.

  7. The FIA Gala presentation of the World Karting Champions would have you think they were all aspiring to race cars and be future stars. The only thing was that Paolo Ippolito, the KZ World Champion, was older the Max.

  8. Coventry Climax
    9th December 2023, 9:37

    There’s been so many discussions -here too- with people wanting change and progress and new things, sometimes just for the heck of it, it seems.
    I’ve always said I’m OK with change in itself, even favor it, but I might not agree with the direction of that change.

    It’s come to a point where I feel (that’s an opinion, ok?) F1 is a complete farce, both on and off track.
    So at this moment in time of my F1 fandom, and yes it’s maybe easy for me to say after some 50 years, I wouldn’t mind it one single bit if the whole FiA/Fom/Liberty structure would blow to smithereens.
    Let’s build something -or a couple of things- new from the ashes.
    Maybe one of those things can put sport back on top of the priority listing.

  9. Really like and admire that Hamilton is using his voice to address all sorts of issues and that he is trying to make a difference. However as I mentioned before and I know it is a difficult balancing act with so many factors at play. I am quite disappointed at the heap of praise that went to the Las Vegas event – it is as far removed from being sustainable as it could be and it also excludes the majority of society with ticket prices almost no one can afford. I think it’s a real shame because for me (and maybe others) it makes Hamilton’s statements a bit hollow (in this case and standing up for Susie earlier this week). I guess Liberty and or money can even silence the most critic voices.

  10. Like the sly digs, passive aggressive much

  11. Agree with Hamilton but that’s Ben s and his oil rich mates for you.

  12. Liberty could set up its own championship with a different name but all the existing teams and drivers.

    And where would they race? Who would host them? Who would run the events? Who will staff the marshal posts?

    The FIA is just the international forum for national automotive and motorsport organizations, who play a big part in making F1 events possible.

    Like many other international bodies, the real power is in the members.

  13. Robert Henning
    9th December 2023, 15:21

    The last time he was in a gala, he wasn’t receiving the 3rd place trophy, which was also for finishing 341 points behind P1.
    I can see his frustration.

    I am curious what he thinks about the next gala in Africa. Given his push for a race in Africa, does he think it’s unsustainable to hold a gala there?

  14. Hamilton and Gretta starting to sound alike. He might glue himself to the asphalt one day. Luckily for Hamilton next year it’s in Rwanda.

  15. Perhaps the sustainable folks should find ways to make the things we want to do sustainable rather than advocating we stop doing them

Comments are closed.