FIA president Mohammed ben Sulyem was on the receiving end of some agitation from Formula 1 fans after his message to Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell following qualifying in Austria.
Both Russell and Hamilton lost the rear of their Mercedes cars and slammed into the barrier during Friday’s qualifying session to set the grid for the sprint, and they apologised to the Silver Arrows who needed to stay up late to fix the subsequent damage.
Ben Sulayem tweeted out what was perceived by some fans as gaslighting when he praised the Britons apologising while the mechanics set to work repairing the cars.
“Happy that team spirit has never been higher in F1,” he said.
“For example, great to see true sportsmanship from Lewis Hamilton & George Russell, apologizing to the team following their Qualifying crashes while Mercedes worked overnight to have both cars ready for today’s Sprint.”
The praise from ben Sulayem comes amid his continued debate with Hamilton over the banning of jewellery in the cockpit, as the fallout from the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix of last year continues.
There was also a belief from fans that the president’s focus should be on the stewards at present who, despite the changes at the beginning of this season, are still showing glaring signs of inconsistency.
While several incidents of robust defending were let go at the British Grand Prix last weekend, Alex Albon was penalised for pushing Lando Norris off the circuit during the Austrian Grand Prix sprint race.
Many track limits penalties have been handed out to Formula 1, 2 and 3 drivers this weekend in Spielberg, but it was not until after the qualifying session on Friday that Perez was penalised for his Q2 indiscretion.
It meant that Pierre Gasly did not get a shot at qualifying higher than 10th when the Mexican was eventually sent back to P13, and the penalties this weekend follow on from Perez passing Charles Leclerc in Silverstone with all four wheels off the track last Sunday.
Amid fresh reports of deplorable fan behaviour in Spielberg this weekend, there is a general sense of surprise and confusion as to ben Sulayem’s focus in his tweet.