FIA has taken action to crack down on Formula 1 drivers who attempt to make political remarks at grand prix events without permission with the addition of a new article to the International Sporting Code.
It has been announced that starting with the 2023 Formula One season, drivers will not be allowed to make political or religious statements without permission.
Many F1 drivers have made it a habit in recent years to express their views on various political and social issues during grand prix weekends, starting with statements about the global climate crisis, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ rights, and human rights issues in some of the countries the sport visits.
The most well-known proponents of these issues on the grid have been seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who is now retired.
However, the FIA has introduced a new article to the ISC that forbids making any political statements without first receiving permission from the governing body or the pertinent municipal authorities where the races are being held.
The general principle of neutrality promoted by the FIA under its statutes will now be violated if drivers make or display political, religious, or personal statements or comments, unless previously approved in writing by the FIA for international competitions, or by the relevant ASN for national competitions within their jurisdiction.
A statement from the FIA read: “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.”
In reference to a black lady who was shot and died in America, Lewis Hamilton stirred up controversy at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix by donning a shirt that read “Arrest the policemen who killed Breonna Taylor.”
Sebastian Vettel has also used his platform to advocate for causes. He wore a Pride T-shirt to the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2021 and demonstrated against Canada’s oil sands extraction this past season.
The FIA additionally added restrictions regarding the management of podium celebrations, noting that the following constitutes a rule violation and is grounds for punishment: “Failure to comply with the instructions of the FIA regarding the appointment and participation of persons during official ceremonies at any Competition counting towards a FIA Championship.”
The FIA’s action follows the FIFA’s ruling at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, when teams and their players were prohibited from discussing LGBTQ+ rights during the competition for fear of facing sports sanctions.