FIA's Sulayem: 'No foregiveness' for Hamilton if gala rules breached

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The FIA's new stewardship led by freshly elected president Mohammed Ben Sulayem will meet to discuss the case around Lewis Hamilton's absence from Thursday's prize-giving gala in Paris, with zero tolerance for the Mercedes driver if he is found to have breached F1's sporting rules.

Hamilton, along with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, was conspicuously absent from the governing body's traditional end-of-season award ceremonial, a snub that reflected the pair's anger of the events that unfolded at the end of F1's title decider in Abu Dhabi and which were orchestrated by FIA race director Michael Masi.

Hamilton's deliberate absence is a breach of the FIA's sporting regulations and could imply a sanction for the Mercedes driver if the FIA chooses to pursue the case.

Article 6.6 of F1's sporting rules clearly lays out the law: "The drivers finishing first, second and third in the Championship must be present at the annual FIA Prize Giving ceremony."

"At the end of the day, rules are rules," commented new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem in his first meeting with the media.

"So we are going to look into the side of where the technical rules are there to be employed and was he in breach? I have to look into it.

"Of course, we'll have to be also be following our rules. But in the meanwhile, it doesn't stop us from making a champion feel good about the sport, you know.

"It's easy to be nice to people. And it is cheap to be nice. And it's also to motivate people. But definitely, if there is any breach, there is no forgiveness in this."

Sulayem said that he sympathized with Hamilton regarding the circumstances of his title defeat versus Max Verstappen, but stressed that "rules are rules".

"Forgiveness is always there, but rules are rules," he said. "We look at the rules, and I always say: rules are not made.

"A human made them...and they can be improved and changed by humans. So the rules are there to be improved.

"I know that Lewis is really sad about what happened and one word I would say is he's broken. But we have to look if there was any breach.

"I cannot [say for now]. It's just a few hours now I've been a president, and I've just started giving answers without going back to the facts."

Regarding the FIA's investigation into the controversial safety car procedure that was implemented in Abu Dhabi and the body's review of the stewards' proceedings in general in 2021, FIA deputy president Robert Reid confirmed that his office would be taking over the comprehensive inquiry.

"It does fall under my deputy presidency because Jean [Todt] committed to a full review," Reid told Dutch website RacingNews365. "As of now, we take that over.

"It's not good for the sport when there's so much contention but, also, there's history in the sport, there's jeopardy in the sport.

"I think we just need a fair and level playing field for everybody. The FIA's role is exactly that, to ensure there's a level playing field and ensure that the sport is safe."

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