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F1: ‘not a platform for private personal agenda’, says FIA President

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Ben Sulayem
  • Formula One drivers and other FIA event participants are prohibited from making “political statements” without the governing body’s permission.
  • The restrictions have been outlined in an update to the International Sporting Code.
  • “But the stewards have the full power, not the FIA president,” FIA President.

Formula One drivers and other FIA event participants are prohibited from making “political statements” without the governing body’s permission.

The restrictions have been outlined in an update to the International Sporting Code, which governs all FIA-run series.

The FIA has prohibited “the general making and display of political, religious, and personal statements or comments notably in violation of the general principle of neutrality promoted by the FIA under its Statutes, unless previously approved in writing by the FIA for International Competitions, or by the relevant ASN for National Competitions within their jurisdiction, unless previously approved in writing by the FIA for International Competitions, or by the relevant ASN for National Competitions within their jurisdiction.”

Platform to speak out on important issues

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton wore a rainbow helmet during the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.|PHOTO: Sky Sports|

Several Formula One drivers have used their platforms in recent years to speak out about important issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, human rights, and environmentalism, with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel being two of the most outspoken.

While the move was explained as formalizing an already-in-place process, comparisons were made with FIFA’s crackdown on similar statements ahead of the FIFA World Cup by creating the possibility of sporting sanctions.

Speaking to a select group of journalists at the Dakar Rally, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem stated that the change was made “with the acceptance, consultation, and approval of the World Council,” emphasizing the importance of neutrality.

The FIA has previously taken steps to prevent F1 drivers from using the attention that races garner to highlight issues that are important to them. T-shirts were not permitted to be worn during the podium ceremony after Lewis Hamilton displayed one with the message “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” after winning the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix.

Other racers have used their race attire to make political statements. Canadian politicians chastised Sebastian Vettel for wearing a helmet with the messages “Stop mining tar sands” and “Canada’s climate crime” at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this year. He did not wear the grand Prix design.

“We want our Sport to be clean.”

max leclerc

Verstappen with Leclerc.|PHOTO: F1|

Ben Sulayem added that the FIA “just wants our sport to be clean” before discussing the social media campaign against toxicity, saying it would aid in “improving and cleaning up our sport.”

But he denied the FIA was “shutting any drivers” down, adding: “I have my own personal things, OK, but it doesn’t mean I will use the FIA to do it.

“The FIA should be neutral, I believe, and we need the superstars to make the sport. And they’re fantastic at the friendly competition that we all enjoy.”

According to the updated ISC article, drivers can only make such statements if they have been “previously approved in writing by the FIA for International Competitions, or by relevant ASN for National Competitions within their jurisdiction.”

Ben Sulayem emphasized the importance of clarity in the regulations, explaining that if a driver is found to have broken the rules, “the stewards will decide” on a sanction.

“But the stewards have the full power, not the FIA president.”

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