30 May 2011
FIA may still decide to punish Hamilton
Despite apologising to the Monaco race stewards, Lewis Hamilton may not escape punishment from F1's governing body for his post-race outburst.
Despite claiming that he did not expect the matter to go any further after apologising to the Monaco Grand Prix stewards, Lewis Hamilton could still find himself facing disciplinary action for his outburst following round six of the 2011 F1 world championship.
The Briton railed against the authorities and rival drivers alike after being summoned before the stewards and handed two drive-thru' penalties for causing avoidable accidents in Sunday's race, even stopping to suggest that his five appearances in front of the officials this season may have had something to do with his skin colour. Although he attempted to clarify that the comment was tongue-in-cheek by referencing UK comic character Ali G, the suggestion that he was being racially discriminated against caused ripples through the paddock.
Hamilton had endured a tough afternoon, having already seen his qualifying session ruined by the accident that befell Sauber's Sergio Perez, and was clearly frustrated at finishing only sixth having appeared to be the only driver capable of matching points leader Sebastian Vettel in practice, but was persuaded to return to the circuit and explain and apologise for his actions.
“I've been to the stewards to make peace,” he told journalists late on Sunday, "It was a bit of a joke, which wasn't funny at the time. I made them aware that, when emotions are high, you don't always say the right thing. Should I have said it or shouldn't I? Like I said I was trying to be funny, but it wasn't funny. You're not always right when you're trying to be funny. Sometimes you really put your foot in it and you offend people.”
Although Hamilton insisted that his point of view had been accepted by the officials, there is still speculation that he could face further admonishment from the sport's governing body, if the FIA feels that he brought the sport into disrepute. The fact that he chose a live feed on the BBC to make his comments, and that they were then made available via the corporation's website, will not help his cause, especially if his apology is also seen to have been orchestrated as a PR exercise rather than genuine remorse.
“We've made our peace," Hamilton insisted, "They accepted my explanation, they understood. We all shook hands afterwards. They said it was a tough weekend, let's move on, and they all wished me well for the season. They said that they would make sure other people in the FIA understand, and that anybody else who has heard it and misunderstood, that they'll clarify it with them and it won't go any further than the meeting room."
The latest outburst comes just a day after he chose to criticise his McLaren team for botching his qualifying attempt, and also included another swipe at the Woking equipe for calling him in for a potentially race-changing pit-stop and then not being ready to receive him. Hamilton had also launched diatribes against seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher and both Toro Rosso drivers before placing the blame for his Monaco incidents at the feet of Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado. Ironically, it was STR's Jaime Alguersuari who badly damaged the McLaren's rear wing in the multi-car accident that brought out the red flag, as Hamilton slowed to avoid the stricken Adrian Sutil, but former driver and BBC commentator Martin Brundle insists that his fellow countryman needs to rethink his approach.
“The problem with Lewis is that it's always someone else's fault," he said, “You wonder if he needs a bit of a mindset change.”
Despite two drive-thru' penalties on Sunday, Hamilton held on to sixth place as Sutil and the rest of the field were at least a lap behind the leaders, and also holds on to second in the point standings, albeit now 58 points behind runaway leader Vettel.
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