The world of Formula 1 was rocked by controversy after the FIA announced that drivers would only be allowed to make political statements in “exceptional” circumstances. The rule change came after the sporting federation updated its regulations, prohibiting “political, religious, or personal” remarks without prior approval.
The move sparked outrage from many drivers, with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton leading the charge against the new law. He declared that he would not be silenced and accused F1’s rulers of trying to stifle freedom of expression. Lando Norris also spoke out, saying that the FIA was treating drivers like schoolchildren.
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The FIA attempted to clear the air by releasing a three-page document to the 10 teams on the grid. The document stated that drivers would still be allowed to “express their views on any political, religious, or personal matter” in their own space, such as through social media or interviews outside of a race. However, if a driver opposes the law while on track, such as during the national anthem or on the podium, they will face sanctions.
In an apparent attempt to quell growing unrest, the FIA added that it may authorize a driver to make a statement at an international competition that would otherwise be prohibited. However, the request must be submitted four weeks in advance of the event, and the driver must provide reasons why such permission should be granted. Each request will be judged on a “case-by-case basis.”
Hamilton was quick to respond, stating that he would “100%” continue to use his platform to raise awareness of issues that he is passionate about. He acknowledged that progress had been made, but there was still work to be done in many areas. Hamilton vowed to continue to be himself and fight for what he believes in, regardless of any attempts to silence him. The FIA’s new rule threatened to cast a shadow over the upcoming season, but Hamilton’s determination to speak out suggests that the controversy is far from over.