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A Review of the 2023 FIA Awards Ceremony: Lewis Hamilton Takes a Stand

Written by Kate Krause, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri


On December 8th, the FIA hosted its annual awards ceremony for the recently completed 2023 motorsport season. For the first time since its inception, the event was held in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. The annual ceremony has been an annual tradition since  1996, after strikes cancelled the 1995 event, and this year’s ceremony stood out due to many events in the run-up to the awards gala. 


Pre-Awards Show

A unique detail kicked off the ceremony, a programme involving traditional instruments and music from the country Azerbaijan, as well as original art and a historic racing car, with the FIA logo on the side. Each musician was also dressed in gorgeous Azerbaijani clothing, adding another cultural aspect to the show. 


Action of the Year

This prize is awarded based on fan decision, to the racer who performed the most significant act during a race in all motorsport categories covered by the FIA. 


This year, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was the winner of the accolade. In early November, the two-time champion produced a masterful drive to bring home his eighth rostrum finish of the season. 


After a happy return to form for the British team saw him qualify fourth on the grid, he would move up a spot following Leclerc’s formation lap crash, and hold the position from a charging Sergio Perez, until the penultimate lap. 


Alonso started the final lap fourth, having been passed by the Mexican the lap prior, and put in a daring overtake on Sergio Perez’s Red Bull, landing him third place. and finishing the race on the podium by only 0.053 seconds. 


This overtake absolutely deserved to win the award, as not only did it give Aston Martin an incredible result after many difficult races, but also showed how Alonso’s astonishing racecraft usurping a Red Bull, the obviously dominant automobile of the season, giving him the points to further push his position in the driver’s standings. 


Rookie of the Year

This FIA award is given to the best new driver in their category. For 2023, the rookie of the year prize was anointed to Oscar Piastri, Formula One rookie driver for McLaren. 


Piastri started his motorsport career in Formula 4, and navigated his way through successive Formula categories, even winning the 2021 Rookie of the Year in Formula 2, an accomplishment that later led to his signing with McLaren Racing F1 Team. 


Throughout the entire year, Piastri showed immense talent, finishing in second place at the Qatar Grand Prix, ahead of his teammate Lando Norris, a result many seasoned drivers haven’t achieved. 


Piastri also managed to win the Qatar sprint race earlier, another incredible feat for a driver taking part in his first year of F1. Clearly, based on race results, improvement, racecraft and other aspects, the Australian was the obvious choice for this award, his raw talent combined with his ability to perform when necessary shaping him into one of the most prominent racers on the grid. 


Formula 1 Drivers and Constructors Championship

The drivers and constructors' world championship trophies were awarded to the winners, along with second and third place, as is the tradition of the yearly awards gala. 


Max Verstappen and Red Bull dominated the championship in 2023, triumphing in both facets by nearly 300 points. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Verstappen accepted the first place trophies, along with personal speeches to commemorate their wins. 


Horner also emphasised their 22 out of 21 race wins, and how special such a feat is for him as well as Red Bull. Second and third place world championship prizes were also awarded to Red Bull driver Sergio Perez, and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. 


Hamilton expressed his anticipation for the winter break, terming it as ‘much needed’, and promising to close the gap between Mercedes and Red Bull next year. Perez also voiced his love for Baku, and thanked his team for their efforts, describing part of the season to be similar to a “roller coaster”.


Lewis Hamilton

However, many fans did notice some interesting tension regarding Hamilton at the ceremony. 


To start with, Hamilton showed up in what many conceived as a casual outfit for an annual awards ceremony, a matching houndstooth sweater and pants. He later changed into a long trench suit when receiving his award. 


In addition, when on stage, it appears he was making a pointed gesture with one of his fingers while holding his third-place trophy, when he was answering a question. Many people noticed this, as he does not seem to be disguising his actions. 


Finally, according to some fans attending the event, following the end of the ceremony Hamilton left his trophy at the venue, handing it off to someone in the audience. This person ended up posting the trophy online on his desk, recalling the incident. However, the Mercedes F1 team released a statement saying this is untrue. 


These developments seem to have stemmed from earlier events regarding Susie Wolff (Check out this article: The FIA and the Wolffs to read more about it), with Hamilton clearly expressing his support for Wolff during the turmoil. 


Potentially, Hamilton was unhappy with many decisions the FIA made regarding her character, and wanted to make his distaste known during their ceremony. 


All in all, the FIA awards ceremony was very compelling, coupled with cultural influences and influential people, and for most part, not a dull moment was seen. It was certainly unique that Formula 1 drivers got many of the possible awards, as all the teams look forward to the next year with the same passion and determination as they did this year.


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