Lewis Hamilton says F1 hard to trust with no accountability in the sport

Lewis Hamilton says there is “no transparency and no accountability” in Formula 1 as the sport continues to be rocked by off-track wrangles.

The seven-time champion appeared to conflate controversies involving governing body, the FIA, and the behaviour of Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

Speaking before this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton said: “With the FIA, things happening behind closed doors, there is no accountability and the fans need that.”

He added: “How can you trust the sport and what is happening here if you don’t have that?”

Hamilton praised F1 Academy director Susie Wolff for taking legal action against the FIA following its controversial conflict of interest inquiry into her last year.

Wolff announced her legal case, which is believed to be one of defamation against a number of senior figures within the FIA, on the same day as the organisation’s ethics committee cleared its president of claims he interfered with races in Saudi Arabia and Las Vegas last year.

Asked whether Mohammed Ben Sulayem still had Hamilton’s confidence as FIA president, Hamilton said: “(He) never has.”

The Mercedes driver added: “I am incredibly proud of Susie. She is so brave and she stands for such great values and she is such a leader.

“In a world where often people are silenced, for her to be standing up sends such a great message, and I love that she has taken it out of this world and is fighting it from the outside.

“So hopefully, this stand she is taking now will create change and have a positive impact. And especially for women.”

In continuing his remarks, he appeared to reference the controversy surrounding Horner, who was accused of inappropriate behaviour by a female colleague.

Horner, 50, has always denied the claims. Red Bull dismissed the complaint after an internal investigation and have since suspended the employee who made them. She has appealed against Red Bull’s decision to dismiss her complaint.

BBC Sport has previously reported that the reason given by Red Bull to the employee for her suspension was that she had been dishonest.

Hamilton added: “It is still a male-dominated sport. And we are 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, especially when we’re talking about inclusivity.

“We need to make sure we are staying true to the core values.”

Ben Sulayem was accused by a whistleblower of demanding the overturning of a penalty to Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in Saudi Arabia last year, and of asking his officials not to pass the Las Vegas track fit for racing.

A report by the FIA’s compliance officer contained claims by an eyewitness who was a senior FIA official that both things had happened.

But on Wednesday, the FIA announced that after interviewing 11 witnesses, its ethics committee had cleared Ben Sulayem “of any wrongdoing”.

Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, said: “You trust that the leaders in the sport have its best interest at heart rather than their own best interests, and that goes back to the transparency thing.

“If things are transparent and we see the outcome of these cases, we all have a chance to judge for ourselves with all the facts and figures.

“But when we don’t have the facts and figures and there is no transparency, you always think there is something being hidden. That’s why I think it is so important for the sport to send the right message.” (BBC)

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