Lewis Hamilton has warned he is set to miss the Miami Grand Prix as he refuses to back down from a confrontation with Formula 1 governing body the FIA over the wearing of jewelery in the car. Hamilton sharply criticized the FIA for focusing on the rule in what he said had become a silly spat.
The rules state that drivers are not allowed to wear jewelry in the car for safety reasons. The regulations weren’t strictly enforced until this season, when Niels Wittich, the new race director, told drivers he would crack down and check they weren’t wearing jewelry. Wittich would be strongly supported in this decision by the new president of the FIA, Mohammed bin Sulayem.
In Miami, however, Hamilton, who noted that he had worn his nose and ear rings in the car without issue for most of his career and that they could not be removed, made it clear that he would defy the decision even if it meant he was ruled. ineligible to compete.
“If they arrest me, so be it. We have a spare driver so we are ready and prepared for the weekend,” he said. “There’s a lot to do in the city anyway, so I’ll be good either way.”
Hamilton said he tried to contact Sulayem directly to try to resolve the issue, but received no response and was damning in his assessment of the FIA’s handling of the issue. “If you think about the steps we’ve taken as a sport and the most important issues and causes that we need to focus on, it’s such a small thing,” he said. “It seems pointless to us to enter into this spat. We have bigger fish to fry. I want to be an ally and I don’t want to fight for it. It’s very, very silly.
The feud and potential loss of F1’s hottest driver in the United States is the last thing the sport wanted for its showcase in Miami. F1 owner Liberty Media had made no secret of its desire to host races in “destination” cities, even to make every weekend feel like a Super Bowl occasion. This weekend is surely the culmination of these ambitions.
F1 was so keen to stage a race in the city and a second race in the United States that it waived the usual race fee for the organisers, who in return put on a show. F1 wanted to showcase the sport so badly.
Hamilton’s potential withdrawal is a headache he hadn’t expected having put on an impressive event so far. The most practical test and the one that will be the most worrying from a sporting point of view is the track itself, which has received positive reactions. The temporary track, built in the shadow of the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, feels like a permanent track and no repeat of the unloved Soulless Las Vegas parking lot of the early 80s. a real track, which is a feat considering that it is largely built on the parking lots of the Dolphins.
Perhaps no matter what type of racing it offers, it’s impossible not to imagine that F1 will consider the weekend a success, or as long as Hamilton is in a car. It sold out with an expected 240,000 fans over three days and marketed as a premium exclusive event, which European fans already accustomed to high ticket prices would likely whitewash, with a $900 three-day pass. The focus is inevitably on show, of course, and here its corollary, corporate hospitality, manifesting itself on a large scale, McLaren has a guest stand the size of a small car park at many floors.
F1 is therefore selling its glamorous event and really pushing the boat out to Miami. Almost literally in the case of the Marina section on the inside of turn seven. When holding the race on the downtown Miami waterfront proved unfeasible, organizers brought South Beach to the Hard Rock instead. . The yachts were winched and surrounded by painted vinyl “water” while at the opposite end of the runway at Turn 12 they trucked in pristine white Miami sand to create an artificial beach.
There’s hype and there’s hyperbole, but even that seems oddly appropriate for a reunion that’s as much an entertainment experience as a race. Purists may shudder, but F1 has big ambitions in the US and in Miami it looks like it’s setting a benchmark for how the sport wants to go about breaking America.