• Boss of FIA warns of trouble if ‘premeditated plan’ pursued • Tyre-testing controversy also not to be investigated
Sir Frank Williams has said he hopes Lewis Hamilton will not suffer from racism when it comes to controlling his future at the Formula One team he has run for nearly 40 years.
The leader of the formula one governing body, the FIA, in the sport’s universe of outspoken personalities, Jean Todt, said Hamilton was in “no danger” after the team announced they had withdrawn from the sport’s tyre-testing programme.
After comments by Hamilton last month that were perceived to have compared his treatment to Rosa Parks, the black American who refused to give up her seat to a white person in the US, the Italian Grand Prix grand prix banned her from the starting grid.
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The FIA chief said he had expected Mercedes to feel they had nothing to gain from remaining out of the programme and that “there is nothing really to be gained from them coming back, because the contract is already in place for the rest of the season”.
But Todt said an investigation was not necessary and would be of no use in dealing with Hamilton. “If, every time he opens his mouth, we start investigating this situation, we are doing nothing,” he said. “Lewis, he doesn’t know any difference between this race and any other race. This, I think, is a sign of growing maturity and a sign of the way the modern world is, because the problem we have in France or Germany, or in India or Brazil, or in the United States, is hardly this kind of problem. It doesn’t happen.”
Todt said that if Hamilton had any problems because of racism, or if he is in danger, “we will be there to help him to eliminate these problems. But we are not going to investigate because we will not find anything to investigate.”
Williams appeared to dispute the FIA’s assertion. “I understand what it is to be a man of 21 or 22 years and to be described as a banana in public, but Lewis is 31 years old,” he said. “He knows that his comments have been taken out of context.”
On the matter of testing, Williams said he thought it was unlikely Mercedes would bring Hamilton back after they were ordered not to take part in Bahrain. “I am not sure he will be back,” he said. “I don’t know if he was told to leave. I do understand when people are told not to do something. I am not very religious, I am not religious at all, but God gives us so many things. What would happen if, and when, he came back?”
Williams made a bleak assessment of the tyre issue, which led to the suspension of seven teams this season. Although the FIA has a responsibility to take action over safety, it is the teams’ decision about testing. “The team should have a little bit more responsibility, but it’s not their fault if their drivers are injured,” he said. “It’s not their fault. It was, however, unfortunate that some had to go down to such a very aggressive low speed for so long. What it also shows is how uncompetitive our cars are, so I have to say, knock yourself out with your car or don’t make it so impossible. This is not a good picture. It is a pretty shameful picture.”
Todt’s comments were also dismissed by Jules Bianchi’s father, Philippe, who said there would be no investigation. “There is only one investigation here, it is only how Mercedes and Lewis are going to progress forward, which Mercedes have decided,” he said. “The FIA can do nothing more than impose sanctions if Mercedes are found guilty.”