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FIA bans 'political statements' from F1 drivers

December 20, 2022

Following years of anti-racism campaigns, and support for LGBTQ and other social issues, the FIA, now says it wants "political neutrality" in motorsports in 2023.

F1 drivers includign Lewis Hamilton on the grid at Silverstone with their 'End Racism' pledge
In 2022, Formula One bosses issued new guidelines that banned drivers from taking a knee before each raceImage: James Moy/empics/picture alliance

Formula 1, World Rally and Endurance Championships competitors will be barred from making  "political statements" from next year, the governing body for world motorsport confirmed on Tuesday.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA), added the new clause in its updated rules for next season regarding, "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."

Drivers who make such statements would be in breach of the rules unless the FIA, whose president is Mohammed Ben Sulayem of the United Arab Emirates, has granted previous approval in writing.

In an interview with racing news outlet GrandPrix247 during this year's Monaco GP, Ben Sulayem described motorsport as "too political."

An FIA spokesman said the update was "in alignment with the political neutrality of sport" as enshrined in the International Olympic Committee code of ethics.

Clash between F1 and politics

In recent years several high-profile Formula One drivers have used Grand Prix races to openly support various political and social causes.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton most notably wore a black T-shirt at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix with the words "Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor" on the front.

In 2021, several driver joined Hamilton to take a knee before each race in a symbolic anti-racism gesture.

In February, F1 announced that this would no longer happen in the 2022 season.

Hamilton has however also been vocal about other issues including for more change in Saudi Arabia, saying this year that he was shocked to hear of mass executions.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain have all signed lucrative sponsorship contracts with FIA in the past year.

Lewis Hamilto's  helmet with he colours of the Pride flag – a banner which includes the traditional rainbow design with additional colours that recognise the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community
Lewis Hamilton wearing a rainbow-coloured helmet at the Qatar Grand PrixImage: HOCH ZWEI/picture alliance

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who retired after the 2022 season wore a T-shirt for the defense of LGBTQ people during the Hungarian Grand Prix and more recently, a helmet deploring Canada's oil sands mining at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, the current world champion, and several other drivers have also spoken out against online abuse on social media during the 2022 season.

In September, FIA itself canceled the Russian Grand Prix in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The 2023 season starts in Bahrain on March 5.

lo/es (AFP, Reuters)