Lewis Hamilton faces penalty for unusual indiscretion

Lewis Hamilton has drawn criticism from the FIA stewards at the 2023 British Grand Prix.

In a turn of events ahead of the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton narrowly avoided a penalty after being late to a press conference. 

The FIA stewards issued a reprimand to the British driver but refrained from imposing further sanctions, taking into consideration the team’s busy schedule and the limited access media personnel have to the drivers.

According to the official 2022 FIA regulations for Formula 1, press conferences, media opportunities, drivers’ activities, and national anthems are covered under section 19. 

In an announcement on July 7, the FIA stated that Lewis Hamilton had allegedly violated Article 19.1 a) of the regulations, which mandates drivers’ availability for official media and promotional activities.

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The FIA’s ruling, published shortly after the incident, revealed that Hamilton’s delayed arrival at the press conference resulted in a Mercedes team representative being summoned by the F1 stewards. 

The team representative defended the driver, explaining that Hamilton’s schedule was meticulously managed by the team, particularly considering the significance of the British Grand Prix as his home race.

“The team representative noted that his driver’s schedule was controlled by the team, and given that this was his home race, the schedule was extremely busy,” stated the FIA’s judgment. 

“In addition, it is difficult for Hamilton to move through the paddock. 

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“While the Stewards understand this to be the case, it is also true that this is an activity required by the regulations, that late attendance is disruptive to the press conference, and that there is significant interest by the media in talking to the drivers whose access is limited.”

The FIA stewards acknowledged the challenges faced by Hamilton and the team due to the crowded nature of the event and the demands on the driver’s time. 

However, they also emphasised the importance of adhering to the regulations and maintaining the integrity of press conferences.

While Hamilton escaped a severe penalty, the reprimand serves as a reminder to all drivers and teams to prioritise punctuality for media and promotional obligations. 

The FIA’s decision recogniSes the balance between accommodating the drivers’ demanding schedules and fulfilling the expectations of the media and fans.

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Media personnel play a crucial role in providing coverage and insights into the sport, and their access to drivers is often limited. 

Press conferences serve as a platform for journalists to interact with the drivers and gather valuable information. 

Thus, any disruption caused by delayed attendance can hinder the smooth flow of information and impede journalists’ ability to fulfil their professional responsibilities.