FIA Cracks Down On Political Statements From Formula 1 Drivers

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Don’t expect to see quite as many Formula 1 drivers making political statements on race weekends in 2023. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, or FIA, will no longer allow drivers to make “political, religious and personal statements.”

Unless those statements have been pre-approved by the sports governing body.

This ruling comes as drivers have become increasingly vocal about social issues on race weekends. These statements were often targeted at that weekend’s host nation.

The FIA wants to paint itself as politically neutral. But it’s hard to do that when drivers are accusing that weekend’s host of ruining the planet.

Sebastian Vettel did that exact thing in Canada this season.

Drivers Have Become Increasingly Vocal On Political Issues

The recently retired Vettel wore a special helmet for the Canadian Grand Prix that read “Stop mining tar sands – Canada’s climate crime.”

Vettel also wore a helmet and t-shirt protesting a recently passed law that banned homosexual and transexual propaganda in Hungary at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has been very vocal on political issues on numerous occasions. He is arguably the sport’s most outspoken driver (though Vettel really turned it on in the last couple of years).

Hamilton has worn a helmet supporting LGBTQ causes during races in the Middle East including stops in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In 2020, Hamilton got attention with a t-shirt highlighting the death of Breonna Taylor.

Hamilton also kneeled for national anthems during the 2020 and 2021 F1 seasons. Several other drivers joined him in this.

I’m split on FIA’s decision. I think drivers — like anyone — should be able to express their opinions. However, from the FIA’s perspective, I can understand how this may have become a headache.

So, drivers can still make statements as long as the point-of-view is in lock-step with the FIA’s.

But then what’s the point?

It’ll be interesting to see if the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association has anything to say about this new policy from the FIA.

I can’t imagine they’ll be particularly fond of it.

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

One Comment

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  1. If anything, these statements often bring more publicity to the sport, what is the fear, that a host country will cxl their GP event going fwd due to political statements, doubtful. I also don’t think many people are turning off the race because of Vettels helmet or Hams shirt. Also, if they do it routinely, the message wears itself out (pun intended)

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