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F1 boss says sport will ‘never put a gag’ on drivers speaking out on political issues



Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali implored the sport will “never put a gag on anyone” in wake of the FIA’s ban on drivers making political statements.

The FIA updated their international sporting code in the off-season to implement a regulation stating that drivers will be in breach of the rulebook if they make “political, religious or personal” statements without prior approval from F1’s governing body.

The likes of Lewis Hamilton and the recently retired Sebastian Vettel have regularly spoken out on matters such as racial inequality, minority rights and climate change and this new rule seems to be a clampdown on their ability to highlight issues close to their heart.

The likes of Lewis Hamilton (pictured) have regularly spoken out on matters such as racial inequality, minority rights and climate change



Max Verstappen also labelled the rule “unnecessary” at Red Bull’s car launch last week while Williams driver Alex Albon stated this week the regulation was “somewhat confusing” and urged “clarity” to be brought to the table.

While Domenicali believed the FIA would indeed provide further details in the near future, the ex-Ferrari chief insisted that the sport was eager to encourage drivers raising important political issues.

“F1 will never put a gag on anyone,” he told The Guardian. “Everyone wants to talk so to have the platform to say what they want in the right way the better it is. We have a huge opportunity because of the position of our sport which is more and more global, multicultural and multivalued.

“We are talking about 20 drivers, 10 teams and many sponsors, they have different ideas, different views. I cannot say one is right, one is wrong but it is right, if needed, to give them a platform to discuss their opinions in an open way.

“We will not change that approach as a sport. That should be the line of our sport, to give everyone the chance to speak in the right way, not with aggressive tones or to offend but with respect.

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali has implored that the sport will “never put a gag on anyone”

(Getty Images)


“We keep monitoring the situation. We keep the drivers informed, we meet with the Grand Prix Drivers’ Associations to discuss it. How we can allow the drivers to be open as human beings in our sport. Athletes can be very emotional and passionate about some things and they need to discuss that constructively with people they trust.”

Domenicali’s latest remarks represents another point of contention between Formula 1 and the FIA in recent weeks. FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has, for instance, been criticised by F1’s legal team for commenting on the sport’s commercial value, a topic seen to be beyond his remit.

With regards to the political ban though Domenicali is confident the sport’s governing body will indeed clarify the situation, with the 2023 F1 season starting in less than a month with the Bahrain Grand Prix on 3-5 March.

“We are talking about a regulation and the regulator is the FIA,” he added. “I believe the FIA will clarify what has been stated, in terms of respecting certain places where you cannot do it.

“I am sure the FIA will share the same view as F1 but they are part of an Olympic federation so there are protocols to which they have to abide.”

Source: Independent


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