Lewis Hamilton has issued a passionate plea to Formula 1’s rule-makers to allow drivers to help shape the sport’s future, and says he wants to have a major role in any changes to boost his "legacy".
F1’s rules were a hot-topic all weekend at the French GP – even before Hamilton dominated an often-uneventful race in his Mercedes – with Sebastian Vettel out-spoken after his penalty controversy, while talks continue over the next regulation changes in 2021.
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Hamilton was one of two current drivers, along with Nico Hulkenberg, who attended an F1 rules summit in Paris two weeks ago – in which the deadline to finalise the next overhaul was delayed – and candidly told reporters in France on Sunday night that what he saw was really not good.
But Hamilton insists, as a five-time world champion with 237 race starts and 79 wins, he can help the sport make progress, while also going into detail about several key topics. He said that:
- He has realised his responsibly and wants to help make positive changes to the sport – and doesn’t want to just be remembered as a driver who won titles
- Fans and journalists shouldn’t blame drivers for boring races as we don’t write the rules
- The FIA should make all decisions, after consulting drivers, and teams shouldn’t be involved
- The current 2021 vision is nowhere near where it should be
Hamilton on ‘boring’ French GP
Hamilton cruised to victory at Paul Ricard to extend Mercedes’ 100 per cent run through the first eight races of the season, and was first questioned in the press conference about the race.
If you say that it’s boring… no, but if you do, I totally understand it and I remember growing up watching, he said. But don’t point the fingers at the drivers because we don’t write the rules, we have nothing to do with the money shifting, all that kind of stuff…
[You] should put the pressure on the people that are at the head, who should be doing the job.
He added to reporters: I empathise with the fans watching, I empathise with you guys coming every week. For a race like today, in my heart I’ve just raced my heart out and I’ll continue to do the same thing but for you it might not be so exciting to watch. So I empathise with that.
Hamilton on 2021 proposals
Discussions over 2021 technical and financial regulations have been ongoing for two years, and while the package is not signed off yet, Hamilton is hopeful the extended timeframe will allow for widespread changes.
Hamilton claimed those ruling the sport have been making bad decisions for many, many years, but believes there is reason for optimism.
They’ve extended the decision of making the rules, he added. I think they need to because they’re nowhere near where it should be in my opinion and they’ve got to make some serious changes to the decisions that they’ve already made of how 2021 should be.
But what I’m encouraged by is that Ross [Brawn] and his team are working – for the first time – on a real aero package that hopefully will have an impact on following [another car], for example.
People really enjoyed the speed of the cars between the early 2000s I think it was. It still needs to be Formula 1, the pinnacle of sport and the fastest cars that there are around the world.
So hopefully we will be part of it, hopefully we can make a real cool change and it’s not only that, it’s the format of the race weekend that maybe can shift a little bit for the fans, it’s how we bring the fans in, it’s all these things which can be better.
Why Lewis attended F1 meeting
Hamilton said he went to the Paris summit on behalf of the GPDA – the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association – which now includes every driver on the grid and is headed up by Alex Wurz.
I’ve been talking to Alex for a long time and I’ve always been kind of quiet really because for years there’s been a lot of outspoken people in the drivers’ briefing and the GPDA and that, Hamilton said.
I just didn’t always agree necessarily with the things that were being said. I just feel like the last couple of years we’ve all aligned and we’ve all joined together, and I just realised the position and responsibility I have and, as the driver with the most championships, it has meaning when it comes to speaking to the FIA.
The drivers who have been here a little bit longer who have truly experience different tyres and multiple aero packages, they’ll hopefully have the better understanding or info that they can give.
He continued: I don’t think we’ve ever been in that room before so it’s the first time us drivers appeared in the room. I really think we made an impact, I think the guys were like ‘shoot, we do need the drivers here’. The fact that it’s taken them so long to realise that is not so great.
But on the positive side, they’ve listened, and I’d like to think they’re welcoming us to be in the decision process. But we need to be in the next meeting and be part of the next chain of emails so we can… even if it’s just small things.
I’ve been here a long, long time and the thing that I’d really love to have… if I look at my legacy, I’d love to look back and say I was a part of that positive changes for the fans that are watching Formula 1, even beyond my time.
That’d be a cool thing to be a part of at the end, not just as a driver who won titles but someone who actually cared about the sport’s legacy.
Hamilton reckons it is the teams who should be excluded from the rules-forming process: I think ultimately the FIA, they’re the governing body and they need to make all the decisions.
The teams shouldn’t be involved in that in my opinion. Because the teams all want to do something for themselves.
The boss won’t like me saying that but that’s the natural thing, competitors… it would be the same in football, if all the teams sat in a room and said the sport should be like this, they would push and pull for their own benefit.