Lewis Hamilton expects fine for missing last year’s FIA gala awards
Seven times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said on Friday he expects a fine for missing last year’s FIA gala awards ceremony to be put towards helping improve diversity in motorsport.
The Briton skipped the governing body’s presentation after a controversial final race of the season in Abu Dhabi that denied him a record eighth title and handed it instead to Red Bull rival Max Verstappen.
Attendance is mandatory to the top three in the championship.
Hamilton told reporters ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix that he had met new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
“There will be some sort of fine regarding the gala but we’ve worked together to make sure the money will be put towards youth from under-privileged backgrounds getting into motorsport,” said the Mercedes driver.
Hamilton, the sport’s only Black driver, has pushed hard for diversity and wider access to motorsport after emerging from an under-privileged background to become one of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
He set up a commission in 2020 and last year made a personal pledge of £20 million towards a new Mission 44 foundation supporting under-represented young people in Britain.
Pierre Gasly began Formula One’s new era with the fastest time for AlphaTauri in Friday’s first practice session for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. The Frenchman lapped the 5.4-km Sakhir desert track in one minute, 34.193 seconds on a sunny but cool afternoon.
Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were second and third, the Italian team continuing to back up the hype that has them marked out as one of the favourites.