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FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem talks Lewis Hamilton out of withdrawal
A jewellery ban has caused controversy.
Lewis Hamilton was talked out of his threat to withdraw from the Miami Grand Prix following a summit with FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem.
The seven-time world champion indicated he was ready to boycott Sunday’s maiden Formula One race here at the Hard Rock Stadium amid the governing body’s jewellery cockpit clampdown.
Hamilton addressed the media in Friday’s FIA press conference wearing a plethora of rings, bracelets, necklaces and piercings in a clear message of defiance, before saying: “If they stop me then so be it. We’ve got a spare driver, so we’re well prepped for the weekend. There’s lots to do in the city anyway.”
But less than three hours later and after a discussion with Ben Sulayem, and a meeting with the FIA’s President of the Medical Commission, Dr Sean Petherbridge, Hamilton was convinced on safety grounds to remove his earrings.
Hamilton was also afforded a two-race medical exemption for his nose stud which cannot be easily taken out.
The 37-year-old will have to remove the piercing before the Monaco Grand Prix on May 29, or face a possible sanction from the FIA – likely to be in the form of a fine, or points on his licence.
Speaking about Hamilton’s change of heart, Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff said: “What was needed was a dialogue between Lewis and Mohammed.
“It is clear that regulations are here to protect the drivers, but on the other side we need diversity and the means of expressing yourself and we know that this is important to Lewis.
“Without going into detail – where the piercings stayed and where they didn’t – I am sure they will come to a good resolution.”
Hamilton will head into Sunday’s fifth round of the new campaign 58 points behind championship leader Charles Leclerc.
The Mercedes driver has struggled to get on top of his under-performing machinery, and finished 13th a fortnight ago in Imola.
But Hamilton and the Silver Arrows have brought a series of upgrades to America and George Russell posted the fastest time in second practice.
“We have brought some parts that function,” added Wolff. “The track surface seems to be very smooth here so our bouncing problem is not as bad as some of the other tracks. We have managed to chip away at lap time.
“Yesterday was good, but we have to be honest to ourselves and it is not like we have brought ground-breaking solutions but probably the circumstances have favoured us.
“We have more clarity on where we need to go, but I would say put our car in Imola, and it is 10 degrees and raining and the picture might have been a little bit better, but still not good enough.”
In the other Mercedes, George Russell has outshone Hamilton, amassing 21 more points than his team-mate.
Wolff continued: “We were never in any doubt that George would be very good and you can see that it is materialising on track.
“I like his approach, he is very rational, whether he is fastest or 11th, it is just about applying the science and trying to make the car faster, but at the same time Lewis was unlucky to be stuck in a DRS train last time out.
“I enjoy seeing them working together, the level is high from both of them, and that has put us in a decent position in the constructors’ championship so I couldn’t ask for a better pairing.”