Lewis Hamilton arrived for the annual FIA prize-giving in Baku anticipating questions about his up-and-down 2023 that netted third place in the world championship but extended his winless drought to two full Formula 1 seasons. Instead, he found the media focus on an FIA investigation into allegations of conflict of interest involving his Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, and his wife, Susie Wolff — director of the F1 Academy for female racers — that was then abruptly abandoned

. Along with expressing frustration with the governing body’s handling of the matter, which has Toto Wolff considering legal action, Hamilton suggested it is a symptom of a deeper issue.

“I think, a disappointing week, really, to see the governing body of our sport question the integrity of one of the most incredible female leaders we’ve ever had in our sport with Susie Wolff, without questioning, without any evidence,” Hamilton said. “Then just saying ‘sorry’ at the end, that’s just unacceptable.

“We’ve got lot of great people in the sport that are doing amazing work. There is a constant fight to really improve diversity and inclusion within the industry, but it seems there are certain individuals within the leadership of the FIA that every time we make a step forward, they’re trying to pull us back and that has to change,” the seven-time world champion added.

“This is a global sport and we have such an incredible opportunity and a natural responsibility to be leader of change — traveling to all countries around the world we have a responsibility to make sure we are pushing the right direction. I do want to acknowledge there are a lot of people doing great work but we need to make some change to make sure we are pushing in the right direction.”