Lewis Hamilton told to ‘lead by example’ after calls for FIA ‘transparency’

Lewis Hamilton looks concerned with a prominent FIA logo alongside him

Lewis Hamilton has been vocal in his criticism of the FIA and president Mohammed Ben Sulayem

Former F1 driver David Coulthard has urged Lewis Hamilton to “lead by example” when it comes to calling for greater transparency from the FIA, claiming the Mercedes driver only pipes up in moments of controversy.

F1 has been rocked by a number of off-track controversies over recent months, including the ongoing Red Bull saga and a probe into accusations of alleged race interference by Mohammed Ben Sulayem, which resulted in the FIA president being cleared by the governing body’s ethics committee.

Lewis Hamilton targeted after FIA transparency comments

Those affairs came after Susie Wolff, the managing director of the F1 Academy feeder series and wife of Mercedes team boss Toto, was at the centre of claims of an alleged conflict of interest in December 2023.

Mrs Wolff announced ahead of this month’s Australian Grand Prix that she has filed a criminal complaint against the FIA, with her action publicly supported by current Mercedes driver Hamilton in Melbourne.

Hamilton said: “I’m incredibly proud of Susie.

“I think she’s so brave and she stands for such great values. She’s such a leader and in a world where often people are silenced, for her to be standing up sends such a great message.

“I love that she’s taken it out of this world, fighting it from the outside, because there is a real lack of accountability here within this sport, within the FIA, things that are happening behind closed doors, there is no transparency.

“There is really no accountability and we need that; I think the fans need that. How can you trust the sport and what is happening here if you don’t have that?

“Hopefully, this stand that she’s taken now will create change, will have a positive impact, and especially for women.

“It is still a male-dominated sport, and we’re living in a time where the message is, ‘If you file a complaint, you will be fired’, and that is a terrible narrative to be projecting to the world.

“So, especially when we’re talking about inclusivity here in the sport, we need to make sure that we are staying true to the core values here.”

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Hamilton went on to reveal that he “never has” supported Ben Sulayem, who was elected FIA president shortly after the Mercedes driver was denied a record eighth World Championship in highly controversial circumstances at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s stance has been questioned by former McLaren and Red Bull driver Coulthard, who has called for the 39-year-old to lead the way when it comes to openness and transparency.

Appearing on the Formula For Success podcast, Coulthard said: “There’s one school of thought that says: ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity.’

“Whenever there’s been big traumas and Formula 1 – loss of life and horrible situations like that – the audience has grown because it takes it off the back pages and puts it on the front pages.

“We’ve had Lewis Hamilton ask for more accountability and transparency across the board.

“I’m always a bit curious on that, actually, because it’s like people ask for things whilst they’re not having to do it. Lead by example in being transparent and open, rather than just doing so whenever there’s a controversy.”

Coulthard’s co-host, the former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan, has become the latest high-profile figure to back Wolff – and expressed his frustration that the various controversies surrounding the sport are taking attention away from the on-track action.

He said: “Susie is such a competent girl. I remember seeing and being super impressed with Susie Wolff driving a Formula 1 car at Williams.

“She is a proper girl. She’s feisty – she’s Scottish, which probably helps being feisty – but a wonderful girl.

“So if she feels and has felt slighted reputationally and various other ways, business wise, she has every right [to take action].

“I would promise the FIA they will need to have a very comprehensive prosecutor, lawyer, whatever, because Susie Wolff would not be going into that kind of situation unprepared.

“It’s similar to Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Mr President of the FIA.

“He’s been cleared [but was] under some serious hassle. The ethics committee of the FIA have cleared him. Some people are calling into to question: who are the ethics committee? Who are they and what did they hear and was there any opposite side to it?

“We will never know and I don’t think we should take sides. I just wish all of this just evaporated and we got on with what we want to talk about, which is hardcore motor racing.

“What do we think can happen? What’s going to happen in the next race? Who’s going to win the Championship? What happens to Carlos Sainz’s future? Where does [Alex] Albon go? Does he go to Mercedes? Does he sit where he is?

“There’s a lot of intrigue out there. They are the things that I think [the fans] want to talk about.”

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