Hamilton skipped the FIA Gala in Paris following Max Verstappen’s controversial Abu Dhabi victory, though his financial penalty will be going to a good cause
Lewis Hamilton has been fined for refusing to attend the end-of-season gala to celebrate Max Verstappen’s world title win.
The seven-times world champion did not show up at the glittering bash in Paris after he and his Mercedes team felt they were robbed by a controversial decision in the last lap of the Abu Dhabi finale. Hamilton has now confirmed he will have to pay a financial penalty for his no-show at the awards night… but that it will go to a cause.
He met with new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix and announced: “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.” Formula One protocols demand the top three drivers in the final standings turn up to the prize-giving in Paris to receive their award.
But Hamilton was clearly unable to go and watch Verstappen collect the crown the Brit thought he had won right up until that last lap in Abu Dhabi. As for this season, Hamilton has vowed to “raise my game” and will have “the same dedication, drive and passion I had way back in my karting days.”
Hamilton claims he “holds no grudges” and “carries no baggage” going into the new season and is more focused than ever on being the best on the grid. But the 37-year-old also insisted he will continue his work away from the track, calling for more inclusion in his sport and standing up for human rights across the globe.
“The world is a mess,” said Hamilton. “We are seeing more displacement of refugees than we have ever seen before – not just from Ukraine but from Syria, from Yemen. It should be a priority for us all to come together and push for change. As drivers we have a platform to help raise awareness.”
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Hamilton has even become a hero of political prisoners in Bahrain, with some inmates painting his car number 44 on the walls of their cells. He went on: “All I can do is to try my hardest to help these people. There are some organisations doing amazing things for human rights and we need to support them.
“I try to have serious conversations in the background to try and improve the system but it is difficult, it is risky. We can all do more. I’m trying to do as much as I can do.”
Asked if the injustice of the finale to 2021 had left him eager for revenge and had given him even more motivation, he replied: “That’s not my psyche. I am just a person who is even more determined to be the best I can be and see if I can somehow raise my game.
“I just want to try and be the best I can be – in and out of the car. I am not sitting here holding any grudges. I don’t carry any baggage into the season. I know I can’t change what is in the past.”