Mercedes respond to claims Lewis Hamilton gave away FIA trophy in protest
Hamilton called the FIA's investigation into Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and his wife Susie 'unacceptable'.
Mercedes have been forced to deny claims that Sir Lewis Hamilton gave away his trophy to a fan following the FIA prize giving gala on Friday.
After finishing third in the 2023 Formula One championship, Hamilton was obliged to attend the ceremony in Azerbaijan amid a heated atmosphere.
Earlier in the week, the FIA had opened a controversial conflict of interest investigation into Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and his wife Susie Wolff, the head of the F1 Academy.
The motorsport governing body dropped the investigation on Thursday but only after Susie Wolff said she was ‘deeply insulted’ by the ‘baseless allegations’ which she believes are ‘rooted in intimidatory and misogynistic behaviour’.
Hamilton, who has driven for Silver Arrows for over a decade, added his criticism of the investigation later and even went so far as to call out the FIA at their own gala.
‘It’s been a challenging week, a disappointing week, really, to see that the governing body of our sport has sought to question the integrity of one of the most incredible female leaders we’ve ever had in our sport in Susie Wolff without questioning, without any evidence,’ Hamilton said.
‘And then just saying ‘sorry’ at the end, and that’s just unacceptable. We’ve got a lot of great people within the sport that are doing amazing work.
‘There is a constant fight to really improve diversity and inclusion within the industry, but seems there are certain individuals in the leadership of the FIA that every time we try and make a step forward they are trying to pull us back, and that has to change.’
There was then speculation that Hamilton had left behind his third-place trophy after leaving the gala, apparently in protest, which only got more confusing after a fan claimed on social media that he had the trophy.
Nihad Nesirli tweeted: ‘I was at the Gala yesterday. Lewis Hamilton gave me the award and left. I have the prize at home now,’ accompanied by a photo of the silverware seemingly on his mantle piece at home.
But Mercedes have quickly shut this down, stating that the seven-time world champion has not given away the trophy as claimed.
‘Just to clarify some of the speculation on social media regarding Lewis’ P3 trophy,’ a statement from the team read.
‘Immediately after leaving the stage, and as has been done at previous prize-givings, Lewis accepted the offer from officials for the trophy to be sent on to the team and therefore left it in their care.
‘We can confirm he did not give the trophy to anyone “as a gift” as has been speculated.’
After a win-less 2023, the Silver Arrows will be working hard over the winter to deliver a car that can challenge the all-conquering Red Bulls, with the 2024 season getting underway on 2nd March in Bahrain.
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