Thursday, July 7

‘Bigger fish to fry’: Hamilton welcomes jewelery reprieve before Monaco GP | Formula One


Preparing for what is always a testing weekend on the streets of Monaco, Lewis Hamilton welcomed an FIA climbdown in a spat that is clearly becoming a tiresome distraction.

The threat of Hamilton missing the race on Sunday due to the stand-off over whether drivers can wear jewelery under their race suits was lifted temporarily on Friday, with the sport taking a moratorium on enforcing the rule to examine ways to come to an agreement.

The rule had been largely unenforced until this season when new race director Niels Wittich informed drivers he would be strictly applying the regulation for reasons of safety. I have imposed a clampdown in Miami where checks were enforced to ensure compliance. Hamilton opposed the move, noting that he had piercings including a nose stud that could not be removed and that he had raced with jewelery all his career.

The seven-times world champion pointedly observed that the rule made little sense given that wedding rings and bracelets were permitted, and his stance was supported by other drivers. He was given a two-race exemption to allow him time to remove the jewelery but he made it clear he had no intention of backing down. The exemption ended before this weekend’s meeting in Monaco but has now been extended to cover this meeting, Azerbaijan and Canada and will conclude before the British Grand Prix on 3 July.

Hamilton welcomed the move on an issue he believed had already consumed unnecessary time. “The rule came in 2005, we’ve all worn jewelery our whole careers in Formula One,” he said. “It’s not been a problem in the past and there’s no reason for it to be a problem necessarily now. It is definitely positive that we’re working with [the FIA] and I think they’re accommodating a little bit at the moment. But we shouldn’t have to keep on revisiting this thing every weekend. We’ve definitely got bigger fish to fry.”

Lewis Hamilton tests his Mercedes during the first practice session in Monte Carlo. Photograph: Christian Bruna/EPA

The intent is for drivers and the FIA ​​medical staff to find a common ground to adjust the international sporting code so that jewelery can be worn in a way that is considered safe. The FIA ​​have cited Romain Grosjean’s accident at the Bahrain GP in 2020 where his car was engulfed in flames as an example of fears where jewelery may cause problems in extricating drivers from stricken cars. Grosjean was fortunate to escape with only minor burns from what was a horrific accident.

Hamilton however was pleased to put the issue behind him as he puts his energy into maximizing his Mercedes team’s efforts in Monaco.

“Honestly, I feel like there’s just way too much time and energy being given to this,” he said. “I’ve said everything I feel I need to say on it in the last races and that’s not what my focus is this weekend.”

He and Mercedes will be hopeful of another strong weekend, having finally solved their car’s porpoising problem at the last round in Spain. Hamilton was consistently the fastest driver on track in Barcelona and put in a fine comeback from 19th to fifth after he was hit and took a puncture on the opening lap. Mercedes have struggled at Monaco in the past but there is some optimism that this time their car will be better suited to the slower corners.

Lewis Hamilton during the first practice session on Friday.
Lewis Hamilton during the first practice session on Friday. Photograph: Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images

Current championship leaders Ferrari and Red Bull will almost certainly still be on top here. Charles Leclerc is confident Ferrari will go well at his home race in Monte Carlo – a meeting where he has never finished – having shown great pace in Spain before an engine problem ended his race prematurely.

With Red Bull’s Max Verstappen subsequently taking the win in Barcelona he has overtaken Leclerc in the title fight to move six points ahead. Red Bull have shown their best form in straightline pace this year so Ferrari may well be on top in Monaco. However qualifying as ever will be vital and more so than ever this year with the cars’ size and weight making overtaking enormously difficult.


www.theguardian.com

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