The FIA is set to review Lewis Hamilton’s penalty from the Qatar Grand Prix as they have reason to be concerned that his “role model status” may influence the decisions made by young drivers.
Hamilton was forced to retire from the Qatar Grand Prix after colliding with teammate George Russell at the first corner. However, the Mercedes driver, who was at fault for the crash did not receive a penalty.
The seven-time World Champion made contact with his Mercedes teammate George Russell while attempting to push around him and Max Verstappen.
Although Hamilton did accept “full responsibility” and later apologised to Russell and Mercedes, there was no penalty issued for triggering the crash. However, he received a penalty for breaching the rules by crossing the live track following the incident.
Hamilton was very apologetic for running across the circuit but received a warning and a £34,700 fine from the stewards.
The British driver will pay half of the fine and only if he commits the same infraction again will the other half of the fine become due, which is suspended until the end of the year.
Although it was considered that the issue had been resolved, the FIA has reopened its investigation and is reexamining the situation.
The FIA is concerned that Hamilton’s mistake may affect junior drivers, who may view running across a live circuit as acceptable, because he serves as a “role model” to them.
“The FIA is revisiting the incident in which Lewis Hamilton crossed a live track during the Qatar Grand Prix,” an FIA spokesperson said.
“The FIA notes that Lewis was apologetic during the subsequent Stewards hearing in to the incident and acknowledged that the crossing was a serious safety breach.
“However, in view of his role model status, the FIA is concerned about the impression his actions may have created on younger drivers.”
Several commentators, like Alex Brundle and Karun Chandhok, have criticized this stance, and the Sky F1 pundit has noted that Max Verstappen walked on the track surface to return to the pits after crashing with Hamilton at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
Jamie Chambers stated in this week’s episode of the On Track GP podcast that Hamilton’s status as F1’s most well-known driver made his actions more consequential.
“We don’t talk about Formula 1 drivers in the way that we talk about football and rugby players,” he said. “We talk about them as a personality that is integral to the team in the car.
“Lewis, more so than most, is very much in the public eye. He has a very outspoken opinion on a lot of things and he has a huge following.
“As soon as Lewis does something like that, we don’t say, ‘Oh, Hamilton got out of the car and walked away’, we say: ‘Lewis got out of the car and walked across the track’. It’s hugely influential.
“When a driver shirks rules like that, a race driver doing that, it’s a huge no-no. It’s setting a dangerous precedent.”