Formula One

FIA tightens its grip: No more ‘political statements’ by F1 drivers


The FIA has amended its International Sporting Code which now includes a provision that bans drivers from expressing or displaying “political, religious and personal statements”, unless previously approved by the governing body.

In the past few seasons, political and environmental activism came to the fore in F1, with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel using their platform as Grand Prix drivers to regularly denounce on race weekends injustice, inequalities or climate change issues.

In the wake of the murder in May 2020 of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Hamilton took a knee before the first race, wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, with 13 of the other 19 drivers joining him. The Mercedes driver repeated the gesture at each of the 17 following races.

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At the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello, Hamilton displayed on the podium a T-shirt that read “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor”, in reference to a 26-year-old medical technician who was shot by police in Kentucky during a raid on her apartment.

The FIA eventually responded by banning non-official clothing being worn on the podium for future races.

Vettel, also a strong voice on injustice but especially on environmental issues, caused a stir at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix when he exhibited on the grid a rainbow Pride t-shirt in defiance of the country’s anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Earlier this year, in Montreal, Vettel’s helmet sported a one-off livery and message denouncing Canada’s extraction of oil from the Athabasca tar sands in the northeastern part of the country, much to the ire of local politicians.

The FIA’s updated ISC will come into force on January 1, 2023.

The new rules (12.2.1.n) state:

“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 FIA has made clear that any failure to comply with the governing body’s instructions “regarding the appointment and participation of persons during official ceremonies at any Competition counting towards a FIA Championship” will now be considered a breach of the regulations.

No specific sanctions have been written into the rules, but punishments for transgressing the ISC may involve race bans and fines up to €250,000.

The FIA Statutes state that the governing body “shall promote the protection of human rights and human dignity, and refrain from manifesting discrimination on account of race, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic or social origin, language, religion, philosophical or political opinion, family situation or disability in the course of its activities and from taking any action in this respect.”

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FIA tightens its grip: No more ‘political statements’ by F1 drivers

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