Will F1’s bling ban drive out Lewis Hamilton? The seven-time world champion insists he is being unfairly singled out but, after he refused to remove his stud, it is hard to see the parties finding a resolution
- FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem ordered Lewis Hamilton to lose his stud
- Seven-time champion has three weeks to have the piercing surgically removed
- But Hamilton believes he is being unfairly singled out and vowed not to remove it
- After the sport’s bling crackdown, it is hard to see the parties finding a resolution
Where will the row over Lewis Hamilton’s jewelery end? Well, just possibly with his retirement from Formula One.
However fanciful it may seem, that doomsday scenario moved a step closer as the FIA’s squabble over the seven-time world champion’s adornments turned into a question of ‘Who runs Formula One?’
On one side the new FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem insists that Hamilton’s remaining nose stud must be taken out on safety grounds in time for the Monaco Grand Prix on May 29, having granted him three weeks to have the piercing surgically removed.
Lewis Hamilton fought back against F1’s jewelery ban by vowing never to take out a nose stud
On the other, the sport’s only transcendent star believes he is being unfairly singled out and on Saturday night vowed never to remove the offending stud.
He cited the FIA’s acceptance of wedding rings. If they’re allowed, why not his choice of bauble?
If Hamilton refuses to submit to the edict, he faces a £42,000 fine in Monaco. It could rise to £215,000 for future breaches. Chicken feed for a man who earns £40million a year, but he would also accrue points on his racing licence.
Hamilton believes he is being unfairly singled out but, if he refuses, he faces some hefty fines
The superstar reported to a press conference in Miami bedecked in watches and necklaces
Twelve in a calendar year would result in a ban.
Those are the technicalities, though. The real rub would be a sense of persecution based on his oft-expressed reference to being the only black driver on the grid.
Ben Sulayem, incidentally, is a Ramadan-observing Emirati based in Dubai and the only non-European white man ever appointed to the highest job in the governance of world motorsport.
As Hamilton said in Monaco 11 years ago when he felt harshly treated by the stewards: ‘Maybe it’s ‘cos I’m black – that’s what Ali G says.’
FIA choef Mohammed ben Sulayem gave Hamilton three weeks to have his piercing removed
So what chance Hamilton, aged 37 and in the twilight of his career, being so disgruntled by his perceived treatment that he makes this the casus belli over which to quit, possibly in mid-season and especially if his Mercedes car continues to tarry?
He would have struck a big blow in his crusade for ‘diversity’ and cast himself as a martyr in that cause.
He would also, as we have alluded to, selected a convenient way out of his current two-year contract that offers him no immediate prospect of signing off with the eighth world title he craves to gild his legacy.
There is time for resolution to be reached, but it is hard right now to see how. It is a shame that this is the hill on which either party would choose to die.