Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time Formula One world champion, has voiced his concerns about certain senior figures within the FIA, suggesting they are hindering positive change in the sport. His comments come in the wake of a controversial investigation into Susie Wolff, the F1 Academy boss, and her husband, Toto Wolff, who is also Hamilton's boss at Mercedes.
The inquiry, which was opened and closed within three days, has raised questions about conflict of interest and the governance of the sport. Speaking at the FIA awards gala in Baku, Hamilton did not name individuals but expressed frustration with the leadership of the governing body. “We've got a lot of great people in the sport that are doing amazing work, there is a constant fight to really improve diversity and inclusion within the industry, but it seems there are certain individuals within the leadership of the FIA that every time we make a step forward they're trying to pull us back, and that has to change,” he said.
Hamilton emphasized the global nature of Formula One and its responsibility as a leader of change. “This is a global sport, and we have such an incredible opportunity and a natural responsibility to be a leader of change,” he noted, acknowledging the efforts of many in the sport but stressing the need for directional change at the top.
Wolff’s Statements and FIA’s Handling of the Investigation
The FIA's handling of the investigation into Susie Wolff has come under scrutiny. In her first statement, Wolff described the investigation as rooted in "intimidatory and misogynistic" behavior.
In a subsequent statement, she expressed her frustration: “I might have been collateral damage in an unsuccessful attack on somebody else, or the target of a failed attempt to discredit me personally, but I have worked too hard to have my reputation called into question by an unfounded press release”.
Hamilton also criticized the choice of location for the awards ceremony. While praising Baku for its beauty, he questioned the FIA's commitment to sustainability. "Whilst I really like Baku, it's really a beautiful place, questions in my mind of whether the FIA is really actually thinking about sustainability because so many people flew out here when the FIA is in Paris and it just would have been easier to stay there.
But it's a beautiful arena, it's a night we all get to come together and celebrate all the achievements of the great people working in the sport, all the amazing drivers that I wouldn't get to see during the year."