FIA clarifies clampdown on drivers making political statements
The FIA has issued a clarification regarding its controversial crackdown on political protests in Formula One, insisting that any Grand Prix application still requires approval from the governing body.
In December, the FIA updated its International Sports Code to include a clause requiring drivers prior written permission to make or display “political, religious and personal statements or comments”.
Lewis Hamilton is one of the drivers who has publicly criticized the rule change, saying that nothing will stop him from speaking out on issues that concern him.
McLaren’s Lando Norris compared the rule to drivers being treated like schoolchildren, while Williams’ Alex Albon said all drivers oppose the ban.
There was confusion about what exactly was and was not about the rule change, but on Friday the FIA provided more details.
Drivers are free to express their opinions at their own time, but the FIA has clarified three key areas in which drivers are not allowed to make certain statements, as outlined in friday document.
FIA press conferences (excluding answers to direct questions from accredited journalists);
activity on the track (track) or equivalent area (for example, during the parade of drivers and the performance of the national anthem);
or pre/post race procedures or equivalent (e.g. awards ceremony, lounge or group photos at the start and end of the season).
This suggests that political protests wearing a racing helmet will be banned without permission.
Drivers wishing to obtain permission for protests beyond this must do so in writing four weeks prior to the relevant event.
The FIA also provided examples of what could be considered a political, religious or personal statement.
The long list, which the governing body emphasized is not exhaustive, includes the following political statements in the form of “image, symbol, gesture, word or action”.
Any politically connected or politically exposed person(s), dead or alive (unless it is part of the competition’s official name).
Any local, regional, national or international political party/organization/group
Any specific political action/event.
Any military conflict or political dispute between nations, regions, religions or communities.
Any specific ethnic or indigenous communities or perceived discrimination by one community against another.
The FIA has urged anyone with knowledge of a potential infringement to notify the race director or course clerk, who will then inform the meeting stewards to decide if an infringement has occurred.
The stewards will have a wide range of possible penalties for any infraction, including warnings, reprimands, fines (up to €250,000) and a wide range of sports penalties, including elimination from the event.
An FIA spokesman said: “An instruction has been issued to international competitors outlining the scope of the updates made to the FIA International Sporting Code in December. in particular to ensure neutrality at key moments in all motorsport competitions such as podiums, national anthems and official “on the playing field” events – this does not impose any additional restrictions on people expressing their views outside of these times.
“The Guidance Note does not change Article 12.2.1.n of the FIA International Sporting Code. It was necessary to provide a separate guidance document to facilitate the implementation of the principles of neutrality in the many different disciplines of motorsport.”