Lewis Hamilton insists he will not be silenced after FIA political ban

The FIA has recently updated its rules to prevent drivers from making ‘political, religious or personal’ remarks without prior approval

Philip Duncan
Wednesday 15 February 2023 16:15 GMT
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Lewis Hamilton is set for a collision course with the FIA after telling Formula 1’s governing body that he will not be silenced.

The FIA has recently updated its rules to prevent drivers from making “political, religious or personal” remarks without prior approval.

Their controversial clampdown comes after drivers – including seven-time world champion Hamilton and the recently-retired Sebastian Vettel – have spoken out on issues such as racism, diversity and the environment in recent seasons.

However, the sporting federation, and its under-fire president Mohammed ben Sulayem, has attracted a backlash for the new law, with a growing number of the grid venting their frustrations.

Earlier this week, McLaren’s Lando Norris called for a U-turn and said F1 drivers should not be treated like school children.

Asked about the FIA’s move to effectively gag the drivers, Hamilton, 38, said: “It doesn’t surprise me.

“But nothing will stop me from speaking on the things that I am passionate about and the issues that there are. I feel the sport does have a responsibility to speak out on things and raise awareness on certain topics, particularly as we travel to all these places, so nothing changes for me.”

Amid ongoing tensions between Formula 1 and the FIA, F1 boss Stefano Domenicali recently said he “will never put a gag on anyone”. He also said he expected the FIA to clarify its position.

Lewis Hamilton says he will continue to speak out on major topics
Lewis Hamilton says he will continue to speak out on major topics (PA Media)

As it stands, Hamilton, who last season clashed with Ben Sulayem over the wearing of jewellery in the cockpit, would face a sanction from the FIA if he opposes its contentious rule.

“It would be silly to say that I would want to take penalty points for speaking out on things,” added the Mercedes driver at the team’s Silverstone launch.

“But I am still going to be speaking my mind. We have this platform and there are still a lot of things that we need to tackle. The support of Stefano (Domenicali) has been amazing and all the drivers are very much aligned on freedom of speech.”

Hamilton was speaking at the launch of Mercedes’ 2023 F1 car - the W14
Hamilton was speaking at the launch of Mercedes’ 2023 F1 car - the W14 (Mercedes-Benz AG)

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell – who also acts as a director for the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association – said: “I am not too sure why the FIA has taken a stance like this.

“It is totally unnecessary in the sport and the world we live in at the moment. We are not going to limit our views, or our thoughts, because of some silly regulation.

“We are seeking clarification from the FIA and I hope it was a misunderstanding and trust it will be resolved before the first race.

“I cannot imagine that they would want to restrict any of us from our views. It is about freedom of speech and we have a right to share our view across any platform that we wish.”

The first race of the new season takes place on 3-5 March in Bahrain.

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