Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Mugello, 2020

FIA says its ban on drivers’ political gestures is in line with Olympic principles

2023 F1 season

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The FIA says its ban on drivers making political gestures has been made in line with the principles of the Olympic Movement.

As RaceFans revealed earlier today, an update to the FIA International Sporting Code for 2023 prohibits drivers from “the general making and display of political, religious and personal statements” without the prior approval of the sport’s governing body. An FIA spokesperson said the revised rules is in line with existing text in its Statutes and the principles of the Olympic Movement.

“The ISC has been updated in alignment with the political neutrality of sport as a universal fundamental ethical principle of the Olympic Movement, enshrined in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Code of Ethics, together with the principle of the universality set out in Article 1.2,” the spokesperson told RaceFans.

The International Olympics Committee’s Code of Ethics requires “respect of the principle of the universality and political neutrality of the Olympic Movement”.

The FIA was given full recognition by the IOC in 2013. This confirmed that the governing body of motorsport’s practices conform to those laid down in the Olympic Charter.

The charter states: “Recognising that sport occurs within the framework of society, sports organisations within the Olympic Movement shall apply political neutrality. They have the rights and obligations of autonomy, which include freely establishing and controlling the rules of sport, determining the structure and governance of their organisations, enjoying the right of elections free from any outside influence and the responsibility for ensuring that principles of good governance be applied.”

The FIA Statutes have long stated that those involved in its activities must refrain from discriminating on political grounds.

“The FIA 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,” it states.
“The FIA will focus on underrepresented groups in order to achieve a more balanced representation of gender and race and to create a more diverse and inclusive culture.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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41 comments on “FIA says its ban on drivers’ political gestures is in line with Olympic principles”

  1. What a load of Crap! Formula 1 is a private entity, not a public body

    The FIA is a corrupt institute who FOM should part ways with, if they want any respect

    1. Formula 1 is an FIA brand.

    2. It’s FOM who are doing the corrupting. Middle East money -> Middle East culture!

      This very article reads like something FOM dictated, with paddock passes in the background, and Keith and Claire have done the best they could with it by leaving it so bare.

  2. look over there!

  3. They can try and justify any way they want, but the truth is transparently clear for all to see. This is pure and simple censorship in an attempt to preemptively stifle discussions on difficult topics that are brought to the forefront by drivers. It is all the more transparent now how hypocritical F1 and the FIA are when they said they are racing in countries with authoritarian regimes in order to shine a light on the abhorrent human rights abuses that are being carried out. My hope is that drivers will still talk about difficult subjects and that penalties will be paid for by teams or sponsors as a part of upholding their corporate principles in the face of F1/FIA’s race to the bottom of the credibility barrel.

    1. This is pure and simple censorship

      Do you consider it to be censorship when your employer asks you not to spread unwanted messages about their business using their marketing channels and branding?

      And the FIA aren’t shutting down any topics – they are merely asking for their marketing reach and branding to not be misused without consent.

      That’s fair enough, isn’t it?

      1. No. Free speech trumps vested commercial interests.

        1. Speech is as free as it ever was.
          But a bit of respect and understanding that there is a time and a place for everything goes a long way.

  4. Where was the sense of fair play from the Olympic Movement at the 2021 finale. This is nothing but a cynical attempt to censor drivers in the sport from embarrassing the FIA when we next return to the middle east races. In fact I hope drivers just sit in the press conferences and answer nothing at those races in defiance.

  5. I’m a bit confused by the FIA action. Are they trying to ban political comments by drivers at their events or banning comments without authorization at all times? Are they saying a driver cannot comment, on the driver’s own media, at all without the FIA’s okay? So a driver isn’t allowed to comment on twitter et al without their say so? Do the FIA claim they can censor drivers’ freedom of expression at all times?

    1. FIA ISC

      1.2.3 It will never be enforced so as to prevent or impede a Competition or the participation of a Competitor, save where the FIA concludes that this is necessary for the safe, fair or orderly conduct of motor sport.

  6. political neutrality of sport as a universal fundamental ethical principle

    Now unbanned Russian GP

    1. Spot on mate

    2. As much as I agree with the sentiment, the FIA has offered a way around this by their “semi-forced neutrality” where drivers drive under another or no nationality.

      The flags we see besides the drivers are just the FIA-license giving nations, not always the one where the driver was born or lives. In that respect it has nothing to do with blocking a nation itself (that would be against their own ISC), but rather withdrawing their motorsport operations from Russia.

      So it’s a technicality that is fair, while at the same time applying their political pressure to look good.

  7. Being in line with Olympic principles ain’t no virtue signal. lol

  8. John Carlos and Tommie Smith would like a word.

  9. Old men the world over want people of all colours, ages, genders and schools of thought to pretty please ask them first, if they could, maybe, say something that might rock the boat.

    And then say no.

  10. Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth – I don’t care – I just watch the races. I don’t give a damn about what a racer has on his t-shirt, what some millionaire’s opinion on the current flavour of the day trigger topic is. I don’t need their opinions to validate my own nor do I need them to tell me what I should be concerned about.

    Lights out to checkered flag is all that interests me.

    Expect to get abuse for this, c’est la vie.

    1. As uninteresting as the opinions of drivers are, it’s fair enough that they use their fame to draw attention to things that interest them. A lot of people watching F1 from all over the world might never have heard of issue X or Y, and once they have they can then still decide they don’t care but at least they’ll have thought about it. That’s all the drivers can do; raise awareness.

    2. I agree with you. Sports should be sports. I like racing. Don’t care for politics.

    3. The thing about rights is it’s very easy to just say it doesn’t affect me so why should I care. Unfortunately what happens in authoritarian systems is eventually it will get to something that does affect you that is censored and there will be nobody left to defend your cause as you stood back and watched it happen to others. So by all means stand oin the sidelines and say you don’t care this time but at some point it might be something you really care about and then nobody will want to have your back.

      1. @slowmo First – I appreciate your reply. You are conflating my not caring about what the drivers say or do with me not caring about peoples rights – that is completely untrue. I have strong feelings on a number of subjects and am happy to debate them in a sphere that matters – Motorsport is not that place though. When I was young (in the 1970s) I was discriminated against because of where my family was from and latterly a close family member has had similar treatment due to their sexuality.

        I am not unfeeling nor am I on the side-lines, but I feel that the outcry because a score of well paid individuals are being made to toe the FIA company line is ridiculous at best. To be clear – these drivers can say and do whatever they wish when they are not specifically representing the sport – they are not being oppressed or denied any right of free speech. Many (if not all) have Instagram and twitter outlets that they (or their management) are active on – and good luck to them – do what ever gets them through the day – they have that right.

        1. I think the issue is that the biggest splash these drivers can make is through the window offered by their sport. This is why some choose to raise issues that are important to them. At what point would you think censorship is too far. What if the next move is that drivers are no longer allowed to question any penalty or question the FIA’s decisions in public? That’s a rhetorical question rather than risking straying into whataboutism. Introduction of censorship is often a slippery slope or thin end of a wedge.

          Why does the sport need to start over regulating every element of a drivers behaviour anyway? The motives of the move are questionable and the timing following a controversial World Cup where political views were surpressed so heavily by the governing body. It’s all a bit convenient to choose this moment to introduce this.

          All the above being said though, I appreciate why its not considered a problem for others watching the sport who have no interest in politics being in sport. The problem though is politics have infected sport due to the benefits it can bring to them.

          1. “What if the next move is that drivers are no longer allowed to question any penalty or question the FIA’s decisions in public? “

            This is already the case. Drivers have to be careful about what they say.

            “12.2.1.f Any words, deeds or writings that have caused moral injury or loss to the FIA, its bodies, its members or its executive officers, and more generally on the interest of motor sport and on the values defended by the FIA.”

            “Why does the sport need to start over regulating every element of a drivers behaviour anyway?”

            Depends where you draw the line. You can’t come out and say you’re a World Champion in catagories without the title. The FIA are quite strict about what you can and can’t call championships etc…

            In addition I am fairly certain if a driver wore a T-Shirt that said “Vote Tory” then people would immediately start asking questions of how that would be allowed. I can think of dozens of examples of why political messaging could be deemed as inappropriate.

            I understand people’s concerns, but I can also see why the FIA would want to control what is displayed on platforms they own.

    4. Absolutely agree. Homilies are best left for church. Even when I agree with the messages sent by this overprivileged and overentitled bunch, they strike me as thoroughly hypocritical.

    5. Totally agree.

    6. @ahxshades Totally agree with you, and your follow up. Been watching F1 for 40 years and still love it. Been interested in politics for nearly as long, but for me that is entirely separate and I compartmentalize both.

  11. These are the same “Olympians” who demand the Republic of China competes as “Taipei” because it upsets the People’s Republic of China to see the RoC (or Taiwan) recognized as an independent country. So much for neutrality.

  12. FIFA, FIA, UCI… they are all corrupted. More of these news will happen as long as there is money involved.

  13. The only way this world will ever improve is if people say what they want and then dicuss it with each other. Censorship only breeds more hatred and division.

    1. OK– You fornicate with goats, beat women, and molest children.

      For the record, I don’t believe any of that (How could I? I don’t know you, don’t follow your posts, and you have no account on here (like me) so I have no way of knowing anything about you). I quite literally picked your post at random to respond to. :)

      I would hope none of what I said is true– so should I be allowed to say it?

      If I’m allowed to say it, should I be held accountable? If the story spreads, and people believe it, should I be liable for damage to your social standing? Your job opportunities?

      Should a driver be allowed to come out in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine? How about white supremacists? What if someone advocates bringing back the National Socialist German Worker’s Party? Or says women shouldn’t be allowed in F1?

      Absolutism isn’t the answer. The FIA has left the door open for legitimate protest and discussion. We’ll have to see whether they’re willing to let anyone through.

      1. I get what you say, but the problem is when you start censoring something, anything, the door opens to silence everything eventually. And who gets to make that decision? Me? You? The richest people?

        So yes, while your statement was completely untrue (although I might have tickled a goat or two in my lifetime…) its important that you can say it. Because the alternative is very, very scary.

        We need to build a world that can talk openly about everything, even if the majority don’t like it, not be artificially silenced by laws and rules.

        Look at the last few years on this planet, many tried to tell the truth about a certain flu, yet were told to shut up and censored by most media. Those concerns are now slowly coming out as having truth behind them…

  14. If they are so sensitive with political statements of any kind, why did they took measures against Russia? So they have opinion, and they are willing to defend it. As long as it is in line with the surrounding political environment of the FIA

    1. Even if they didn’t take measures against Russia, many teams would not be able to participate based on the applicable laws in their home countries.

    2. @petrucci The problem with the Russian Grand Prix was not unlike the reason the Dakar Rally moved to South America. Because of the situation there, and the sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU and UK, it became practically impossible for teams to travel to Russia, be insured in Russia, and have any sort of guarantee that their personal safety or property rights would be respected while in Russia.

      If Russia wants to host a Grand Prix, they can. The Russians know what they need to do to get there.

      Let’s not portray this as an FIA or F1 problem.

      1. Nah. Western businesses operate in Russia every day. The country is not subject to an embargo or comprehensive sanctions by OFAC/EU/OSPI. You don’t have to bank or deal with Russian SDNs to run a GP for one weekend. FIA made a statement. Their hands were not forced by sanctions.

  15. Luckily, speaking out for human rights is neither a political, religious or personal statement.

  16. FIA is a private organization and they can do what they want within the confines of applicable law. And I look forward to the Pyongyang GP brought to you by VTB bank.

  17. It’s in line with Olympic Principles.
    So it’s gotta be good!

  18. Its soo unfortunate that many people still believe in the separation of sport, politics and human freedom/ dignity. And yet in all of the above its the Human at its centre. Some people argue the point that they just want to see racing. Well what if the racing was a sham, unbalanced, orchestrated and unlevel as in unfair? Is it really racing? Would we be happy to attend a dinner as a guest but unbeknown to us we were been fed human meat? Cooked by kids forced to cook their own relatives. My example it far and extreme but that is what its like when f1 or any sport goes into countries where people are killed, oppressed, abused… And we juat turn a blind eye. Because as long as it taste good who cares where or how the food was made!

    1. Well what if the racing was a sham, unbalanced, orchestrated and unlevel as in unfair? Is it really racing?

      That’s always been F1’s version of racing…

      OK, after that, I’m out. Whatever you smoked for Christmas was too strong for you. Cut back on it or give it up, for your own wellbeing.

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