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Valterri Bottas castigates FIA over ‘unnecessary gagging rule’

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Valterri Bottas FIA rule
Valterri Bottas gagging rule. Photo/Planet F1
  • F1 driver Valterri Bottas has castigated the FIA following its gagging of all team drivers
  • He says the rule is unnecessary and uncalled for
  • The FIA has banned F1 drivers from making personal, political and religious statements

F1 driver Valterri Bottas has castigated the FIA following its gagging of all team drivers from making a making religious, personal or political statements.

Just before the season began, the FIA published a new rule barring all F1 drivers from making such statements without written approval by Formula One.

“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,” the rule states.

It is an addendum to the International Sporting Code included just before the start of the 2023 season.

How much is Valtteri Bottas paid

Valtteri Bottas. Photo/The SportsRush

However, Bottas says that the rule, even with its clarity now unlike before, is still unnecessary.

Speaking in Bahrain on Saturday on the sidelines of the pre-season testing, the Alfa Romeo driver said that his point of view on the whole matter is unwarranted and is shared by all other team drivers.

“I saw the clarification. Of course, there are things at least it has made clear, but I still do think it’s a bit unnecessary and I think I’m speaking on behalf of all the drivers. We haven’t had a [Grand Prix Drivers’ Association] meeting yet but hopefully soon to discuss,” he told the press according to F1.

The gagging rule sparked a broad outcry in the paddock when the FIA first released the rule. So much was the heat that the body had to issue a clarification advisory regarding what is and isn’t authorised under the new rule.

Nevertheless, drivers in the paddock protested all of this saying it is draconian and doesn’t value the power of expression for the people.

A week ago, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said he will not allow FIA to gag from speaking out on issues affecting the sport.

He joined other F1 stakeholders expressing dissatisfaction with the new regulation that forbids drivers from making political, religious and personal comments without consent in writing.

The new rules took effect at the start of the 2023 season although many are awaiting FIA’s clarification of what exactly the free speech rules are about.

Lewis Hamilton free speech

Lewis Hamilton. Photo/Eurosport

He told BBC Sport that he will always talk about the things he is passionate about and no one will stop him. Being in Formula One for over a decade gives him a responsibility to speak against issues of concern.

“Nothing will stop me from speaking on the things I am passionate about. The sport has a responsibility to speak out and create awareness on important topics, particularly as we are travelling to different places. So nothing changes,” he stated.

The free speech gag comes under FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s tenure which is lately stirring a lot of controversies.

As it is in the rule, any F1 driver in contravention of it; he will be sanctioned and in extreme disciplinary cases, drop out of the year’s circuit.

Hamilton seconded Stefano Domenicali, the current Formula 1 president on his stand on the matter. The F1 boss said that it was unfair to gag team drivers and is not supporting FIA on this.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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