FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem weighed in on the ongoing ‘jewelry’ saga between Lewis Hamilton and Formula 1‘s governing body, urging the seven time World Champion to be a role model.
A main talking point in the Miami paddock was the FIA decision to clamp down on drivers wearing jewellery when racing and the insistence on the use of fire-resistant underwear, something which some see as targeting British superstar Hamilton by Ben Sulayem.
Ben Sulayem however scoffed as such claims when asked about them by Sportsmail and said: “Never.
“After Brazil (a race Hamilton won brilliantly last November despite multiple grid penalties to set himself up for a possible championship title) I wished him all the best as he was getting on the plane home.
“You can ask Toto Wolff how supportive I was,” the Emirati added. “I was free then because I wasn’t president. I really wanted him to win that eighth title, because records are there to be broken.”
The former rally driver questioned how people claim he favored Hamilton and Mercedes when he fired Michael Masi from the Race Director role, the go on to claim he is now singling the Briton out.
“People say I did what Lewis and Toto wanted by removing Michael Masi,” he said. “I mean, I do that for them and then I have it in for them – it doesn’t make sense.
“Lewis saw a doctor in Miami to discuss the jewellery issue – and, guess what, he was a British doctor. I am simply saying the rules are there. It’s not for me to decide the merits of the science – it’s for the medics,” the FIA president insisted.
Hamilton should send the right message to young drivers
Ben Sulayem doesn’t want to set a precedent by giving Hamilton a free pass to circumvent the rules where he should set an example to others while suggesting it was during his predecessor, Jean Todt’s reign that the long-existing rule was not implemented.
“I would like Lewis to be a role model, an ambassador, to send the right message to all the young drivers to prevent a tragedy,” he said. “We should be using him in that good cause.
“I love jewellery,” Ben Sulayem went on. “I absolutely love it. But in the car there can be no choice. People say they (the rules) haven’t been implemented before. Don’t ask me why not. People can ask the old regime why that is the case.”
Hamilton was given an exemption up to Monaco to sort out some of his jewellery that cannot be simply removed, but the Briton hinted that he will continue to resist the FIA’s decision at the risk of paying a hefty fine.
“That’s up to him,” Ben Sulayem said of Hamilton’s stance. “There are fines that apply. It’s like if someone speeds on the roads – you can’t stop them doing it but they get fined, even if it was accidental.
“You can’t let people off because they are your friends. There has to be one rule for all, and that’s that,” 60-year-old Ben Sulayem insisted.