Seven times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said on Friday his €50,000 fine for missing last year’s FIA gala awards ceremony will be put towards helping improve diversity in motorsport.
The Briton skipped the governing body’s presentation after a controversial final race of the season in Abu Dhabi that denied him a record eighth title and handed it instead to Red Bull rival Max Verstappen.
Attendance is mandatory to the top three in the championship.
Hamilton told reporters ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix that he had met new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
“There will be some sort of fine regarding the gala but we’ve worked together to make sure the money will be put towards youth from under-privileged backgrounds getting into motorsport,” said the Mercedes driver.
The FIA responded by issuing a statement confirming Hamilton had met with Ben Sulayem to discuss diversity and inclusion in motorsport along with the fine, which it referred to as a donation.
“In the spirit of commitment to building a more diverse sport in the future, the FIA president gave his full support to Hamilton’s decision to make a donation of €50,000 that will be used to support a student from a disadvantaged background in achieving an educational qualification in motorsport,” the statement read.
It added: “During the meeting, the circumstances that led to Hamilton’s absence from the 2021 FIA prize giving ceremony were also discussed. Hamilton acknowledged the importance of celebrating the year’s achievements with the prize winners from across motorsport and the FIA president reminded Hamilton of his obligation of sportsmanship, particularly in view of his status in motorsport.”
Hamilton, the sport’s only Black driver, has pushed hard for diversity and wider access to motorsport after emerging from an under-privileged background to become one of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
He set up a commission in 2020 and last year made a personal pledge of £20 million ($26.25 million) towards a new Mission 44 foundation supporting under-represented young people in Britain.