JONATHAN McEVOY: Lewis Hamilton is losing his sparkle in more ways than one – on top of his Mercedes car being woefully behind the F1 leaders, he is now banned from wearing jewellery in the driving seat
- Lewis Hamilton is not having the easiest time of things so far this F1 season
- While his troubles continue with the car, Hamilton is set to lose more sparkle
- F1 chief Wittich is set to enforce a rule banning drivers from wearing jewellery
- Hamilton is known to favour wearing a nose stud and earrings when he drives
- Should he decide to flout the rule, Hamilton could be fine or deducted points
Well at least a bomb didn’t go off this time. But that is about all the good news there was for Lewis Hamilton in the Melbourne sun.
After the Houthi-fired missile in Saudi Arabia a fortnight ago, his car is still woeful and he is on a collision course with the governing FIA about wearing jewellery.
New race director, German Niels Wittich, is determined to enforce an existing rule, breached for years, that prohibits the wearing of necklaces, not to mention the nose studs and earrings Hamilton favours.
Lewis Hamilton is on a collision course with the FIA over wearing jewellery while driving
Will he fit in with the new edict? ‘I’m just going to come up with more jewellery next week,’ he said.
A joke or defiance? Or he’s not sure quite which yet?
Wittich made his argument in the drivers’ briefing last night, pointing out the safety implications: metal conducts heat and presents danger in a fire, and jewellery could get caught. Hamilton and peers countered that the regulation had never been applied. Why now?
Wittich, I understand, did not budge. No jewels from today.
Is it a sensible precaution or health and safety gone mad?
Hamilton added: ‘Well, I’ve got certain piercings that I really can’t take out that not many people know of. I’m kidding. I mean, it’s been the rule for ever. There’s nothing new.’
New F1 race director Niels Wittich is determined to enforce an existing rule banning jewellery
Hamilton could be fined or docked points if he transgresses Appendix L Chapter III Article 5 of the International Sporting Code, which states: ‘The wearing of jewellery in the form of body piercings or metal neck chains is prohibited.’ As for the Mercedes Hamilton is driving here at the Australian Grand Prix, it hardly seemed adequate on the evidence of practice yesterday.
He was 13th quickest, his earlier bonhomie compromised by the evidence of ongoing struggles.
‘Nothing we do to the car makes a difference at the moment and that is the difficult thing,’ he said after watching the Ferraris and Red Bulls set the standard.
‘You get into the car and you are very optimistic, make changes and it doesn’t improve.
‘We made alterations going into second practice and it ended up being harder for me. It is a tricky car. There is just not a lot we can do.
‘This is the way it is so we just have to drive with it. That is frustrating because you are trying to push to catch up, but even when you do a decent lap, it is 1.2 seconds down.’
Mercedes’ woes aside, there was a festival feel to the gathering at Albert Park. A record attendance for a Friday of 112,466 smashed the old best of 84,500 in 2019.
Hamilton’s car woes continue as the British seven-time champion was 13th quickest in practice
The track has been remodelled and relaid. It is 28 yards shorter. Turns 1 and 6 and the penultimate corner have been widened.
The chicane at Turns 9 and 10 has gone to provide a hurtle into Turn 11, all changes made to improve the likelihood of greater overtaking.
The introduction of four DRS zones is also intended to induce more passing on the track.
More than 400,000 fans are expected over the weekend — another Melbourne record.
‘It’s good to be here again,’ said Hamilton, with a smile. It is a verdict he may be given cause to review over the next couple of days.
Australian Grand Prix, starts on Sunday at 6am, Sky Sports.