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From the sound of it, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner gets what most fans want out of sports: escapism.
The Formula 1 circus heads to Bahrain for testing this weekend. After that, they’ll stay in the country for the Bahrain Grand Prix the following week. It’ll be the first gathering of F1 drivers and personnel since the FIA cracked down on drivers making political statements.
The code of conduct bans “the general making and display of political, religious or personal statements.”
Horner spoke to The New York Post about the ban. He told them that the sport shouldn’t be used for “political gain.”
“We’re a sport; we’re a form of entertainment and a form of escapism from some of the s–t going on in the world,” Horner told The Post. He added that the FIA plays an important role in regulating F1 and that “there will always be freedom of expression and freedom of speech.”
The FIA’s Political Has Drawn Support, Confusion
The FIA’s decision to outlaw political speech at race events has divided the paddock. Some, like McLaren CEO Zak Brown, backed it.
“I’m glad the door is open for drivers and teams to talk to the FIA if there’s an issue they want to discuss. It wasn’t a ‘You can’t do it.’ It was ‘You can’t do it without our permission.’ So at least the door is open,” Brown said in December. “Everyone is allowed freedom of speech. It did get out of control at times with so much messaging going on
Williams driver Alex Albon expressed a desire for clarity from the FIA. He also talked about getting some mixed messaging from the sport’s governing body.
“We are all concerned. We know politics and stances are sensitive areas but we need clarity from the FIA on what they are trying to tell us.” Albon said, per The Guardian.
“On a personal side, it is confusing. We are very much for the We Race as One [initiative], and it seems as though the FIA are moving away from that. It is clear that we need an open dialogue on what they [the FIA] are trying to do but we need to be able to speak freely to some extent.
It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes before someone runs afoul of this edict.
If I was a betting man (and if I’m being honest, I am), I’d say the second race of the season is a good bet for when this issue returns to the forefront. That’s the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, so there might be a touch of political tension in the air.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle