New FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says there can be “no forgiveness” if Lewis Hamilton breached rules by not attending the FIA Prize Giving Gala, but wants time to analyze the situation before jumping to conclusions.
Hamilton and team principal Toto Wolff did not attend Thursday’s event in Paris after being left “disillusioned” in Wolff’s words by the handling of the final laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday that saw Hamilton miss out on the drivers’ championship. The pair were required to be present based on FIA regulations, and Ben Sulayem — who has raced in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship — says the matter will need dealing with if there has been a breach.
“First of all, as a driver I feel emotional but at the end of the day rules are rules so we are going to look into the side where it is… rules are there to be employed,” Ben Sulayem said. “Was he in breach? I have to look into it. I was definitely excited about the election, there was the judges who were there (in Abu Dhabi), the stewards who were handling it, the FIA is taking care of it, but I will definitely look if he was in breach.
“Of course we have to be following our rules, but in the meanwhile it doesn’t stop us from making a champion feel good about the sport. It’s easy to be nice to people — it’s cheap to be nice, and also to motivate people, but definitely if there is any breach there is no forgiveness in this.
“I always say, rules are not made, humans made them — they are not the bible or any holy book or something, they are made by humans and can be improved and changed by humans. So rules are there to be improved.
“I know that Lewis is really sad about what happened and one word I would say is he is broken, but we have to look if there was any breach. I cannot just (decide), a few hours now into being president and just started giving answers without going back to the facts.”
Ben Sulayem says he will drop all other responsibilities to focus on the FIA presidency and try to ensure motorsport’s governing body has a strong reputation, and when asked whether Michael Masi has a future as race director moving forward, the new president said it’s too soon for him to make such a decision.
“I’m just newly elected. Tomorrow I have a meeting with the staff — I’ll look into every single matter that can improve the FIA or if there’s an issue about it, but I definitely wouldn’t just jump into conclusions or decisions without going back to my team.”