Lewis Hamilton keen for drivers to be centre of F1 changes

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, center, of Britain, celebrates on the podium Picture: AP/PA.Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, center, of Britain, celebrates on the podium Picture: AP/PA.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, center, of Britain, celebrates on the podium Picture: AP/PA.
Lewis Hamilton believes he should not be blamed for dominating Formula 1, instead calling for radical changes to the sport’s management.

Hamilton delivered a crushing performance to win the French Grand Prix, leading every lap from pole position, and securing the 79th victory of his career, his title lead extended to 36 points.

The five-time world champion has dropped just 21 points from a possible 208 this year, winning six of the first eight races, including the last four on the bounce. This is his best-ever start to a season.

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Here, at the Circuit Paul Ricard on the south of France, Hamilton was at his all-conquering best, crossing the line 18 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas in identical Mercedes machinery.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton’s closest championship challenger for the past two years, finished fifth.

The German is already a morale-sapping 76 points behind his rival.

Bottas was pushed to the wire by young Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in the battle for best of the rest behind Hamilton, while British teenager Lando Norris lost three places, dropping from seventh to 10th on the final lap.

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But the 53 laps of racing will be forgotten in a hurry. Fans lambasted the dreary spectacle.

“If you say it’s boring, I totally understand it,” said Hamilton. “Don’t point the finger at the drivers – we don’t write the rules.

“You should put pressure on the people at the top, who should be doing their jobs. They have made bad decisions for many, many years.

“It is a constant cycle in Formula 1, even before I got here, and that is because of the way it was set up by Bernie Ecclestone.

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“The decisions they were making back then are still the same, and until that management structure changes, it will continue to be the same.

“My job is to do the best I can as a driver. I have been racing a long time but it never gets old. I couldn’t do it without the team.

“We are creating history together and I am so proud to be a part of it. I am happy.

“It wasn’t easy at all. There are always things happening and we are on the edge. This has been the best start to a year so we have got to enjoy it.”

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The sport is in the process of writing up the rules and regulations for 2021 onwards, but the announcement of how F1 will look in just 18 months has recently been delayed until October.

The 10 teams are struggling to reach a consensus, and there is a growing feeling that F1’s American owners, Liberty Media, and governing body, the FIA, are not taking a strong enough lead.

Hamilton, who has spent most of his career taking a back seat in shaping the sport’s rulebook, was on the front line in Paris last week, joining F1’s major stakeholders at a crisis summit.

“They have extended the deadline of making the new rules,” added Hamilton.

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“They need to, because they are nowhere near where they need to be. They need to make serious changes to their idea of what 2021 should look like.

“I went to Paris to get involved in the meetings and watching the F1 bosses.

“I had nothing to gain by it. They have been making all of these decisions, and never once had a driver’s input in that room before. If that’s the decisive moment, which helps to get the fans better racing, then I would be proud to be a part of it.

“It still needs to be Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport, and hopefully with us part of it we can make a change.”

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Ferrari have been no match for Hamilton’s Mercedes team this season, and have endured arguably their worst weekend of the season in France.

They failed in their appeal to overturn Vettel’s penalty which lost him the Canadian Grand Prix a fortnight ago. Vettel could qualify only seventh, before making up just two places.

At one point, the four-time champion was told to go to “Plan F”. Plan A is a distant memory for the struggling Scuderia right now.

Daniel Ricciardo was later punished with a 10-second penalty, promoting British teenager Lando Norris to ninth.

Ricciardo however, was later adjudged to have driven Norris off the road. The Australian was also punished for an off-track pass on Raikkonen during an action-packed last lap.