Hamilton Advised to Lead by Example on FIA Transparency

David Coulthard, a former F1 driver, has emphasized the importance for Lewis Hamilton to set an example by advocating for increased transparency from the FIA. Coulthard suggests that Hamilton tends to speak out only when controversies are brewing.

In recent months, Formula 1 has been embroiled in several off-track disputes. These include the ongoing saga involving Red Bull and an investigation into allegations of race interference by Mohammed Ben Sulayem. The latter inquiry saw the FIA president cleared by the governing body’s ethics committee.

These incidents followed claims of a potential conflict of interest in December 2023 involving Susie Wolff, the managing director of the F1 Academy feeder series, and the wife of Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

Mrs. Wolff made headlines by disclosing that she has taken legal action against the FIA, with Hamilton publicly expressing his support for her cause during the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Hamilton stated: “I’m incredibly proud of Susie.

“I think she’s so brave and she stands for such great values. She’s such a leader and in a world where often people are silenced, for her to be standing up sends such a great message.

“I love that she’s taken it out of this world, fighting it from the outside, because there is a real lack of accountability here within this sport, within the FIA, things that are happening behind closed doors, there is no transparency.

“There is really no accountability and we need that; I think the fans need that. How can you trust the sport and what is happening here if you don’t have that?

“Hopefully, this stand that she’s taken now will create change, will have a positive impact, and especially for women.

“It is still a male-dominated sport, and we’re living in a time where the message is, ‘If you file a complaint, you will be fired’, and that is a terrible narrative to be projecting to the world.

“So, especially when we’re talking about inclusivity here in the sport, we need to make sure that we are staying true to the core values here.”

Hamilton clarified that he has never backed Ben Sulayem, who assumed the role of FIA president following the contentious conclusion of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Hamilton was denied his eighth World Championship title.

Former McLaren and Red Bull driver Coulthard has raised doubts about Hamilton’s position and urged the 39-year-old to champion openness and transparency.

During an appearance on the Formula For Success podcast, Coulthard remarked: “There’s one school of thought that says: ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity.’

“Whenever there’s been big traumas and Formula 1 – loss of life and horrible situations like that – the audience has grown because it takes it off the back pages and puts it on the front pages.

“We’ve had Lewis Hamilton ask for more accountability and transparency across the board.

“I’m always a bit curious on that, actually, because it’s like people ask for things whilst they’re not having to do it. Lead by example in being transparent and open, rather than just doing so whenever there’s a controversy.”

Eddie Jordan, former F1 team owner and co-host alongside David Coulthard, has joined the ranks of high-profile figures supporting Wolff. He voiced his frustration over the distractions caused by the sport’s numerous controversies, which divert attention away from the on-track action.

He said: “Susie is such a competent girl. I remember seeing and being super impressed with Susie Wolff driving a Formula 1 car at Williams.

“She is a proper girl. She’s feisty – she’s Scottish, which probably helps being feisty – but a wonderful girl.

“So if she feels and has felt slighted reputationally and various other ways, business-wise, she has every right [to take action].

“I would promise the FIA they will need to have a very comprehensive prosecutor, lawyer, whatever because Susie Wolff would not be going into that kind of situation unprepared.

“It’s similar to Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Mr President of the FIA.

“He’s been cleared [but was] under some serious hassle. The ethics committee of the FIA have cleared him. Some people are calling into to question: who are the ethics committee? Who are they and what did they hear and was there any opposite side to it?

“We will never know and I don’t think we should take sides. I just wish all of this just evaporated and we got on with what we want to talk about, which is hardcore motor racing.

“What do we think can happen? What’s going to happen in the next race? Who’s going to win the Championship? What happens to Carlos Sainz’s future? Where does [Alex] Albon go? Does he go to Mercedes? Does he sit where he is?

“There’s a lot of intrigue out there. They are the things that I think [the fans] want to talk about.”