‘FIA’s attempt to silence Hamilton and others is seriously disturbing’ – rights groups

2023 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Human rights organisations have urged FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem to tear up new regulations which prevent drivers from voicing political views.

Revisions to the International Sporting Code which came into effect at the beginning of the year forbid “the general making and display of political, religious and personal statements or comments” by drivers “in violation of the general principle of neutrality promoted by the FIA under its Statutes, unless previously approved in writing”.

The revision has caused concern among human rights groups, and The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy wrote to Ben Sulayem today and criticised the change.

“We believe this will suppress the freedom of speech of Formula One (F1) drivers and teams and prevent them from making their voice heard on key issues including human rights and racism,” wrote BIRD’s director Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei in the letter, seen by RaceFans.

“This move appears to be a reaction to drivers, in particular Lewis Hamilton, raising their concerns about the locations chosen for F1 races, including the human rights records of host countries and making powerful interventions where your own organisation has been silent,” added the letter, which was copied to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, plus representatives of F1 teams and drivers including Hamilton and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

Alwadaei said his organisation has not had “meaningful” interaction with the FIA since Ben Sulayem took over from his predecessor Jean Todt at the end of 2021.

“On 19th March 2021, when the Federation Internationale d’Automobile (FIA) was under Jean Todt’s leadership, BIRD held a meeting with Onika Millar, a senior FIA representative, in the presence of a former UN high commissioner Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad,” Alwadaei wrote. “During this meeting, which was our last meaningful engagement with the FIA, a potential FIA policy and commitments on human rights were discussed and we were given the encouraging assurance that your predecessor was keen for the FIA to adopt a human rights policy.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“Unfortunately, Jean Todt’s presidency ended without a human rights policy in place and it is not clear whether this is still something the FIA is working towards under your leadership or not.” Alwadaei said a letter sent to Ben Sulayem on behalf of 90 European legislators in March last year had not received a response despite follow-up enquiries made by a British member of parliament and a lord.

“This sets a dangerous precedent that the FIA will deliberately ignore credible human rights concerns and criticism of the organisation and F1,” he stated.

F1 returned to Bahrain after cancelled 2011 race
Alwadaei questioned how the FIA could attempt to restrict drivers’ expressions when the governing body already takes actions on political grounds.

“The FIA’s recent move is clearly targeted at drivers like Lewis Hamilton who has used his platform to express support for Black Lives Matter and human rights in countries with problematic human rights records, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia,” he wrote. “Throughout his career, none of the statements Lewis Hamilton has made can be considered any more political than the decision by the FIA to withdraw from racing in Russia in the last season due to its invasion of Ukraine.

“In your own statement last year, you condemned the Russian invasion and expressed “sadness and shock” for victims in Ukraine. While I applaud this statement, it is clearly a political one. If you do not believe this can be considered political, it is unclear what is. F1 drivers must be allowed to enjoy the same rights as you [the FIA] are to freely express their moral stances.”

He also claimed the FIA’s relationship with Gulf states such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates constituted a conflict of interest and said BIRD has filed a legal complaint against F1 in the UK over the extension to its Bahrain Grand Prix contract which was announced last February.

“I urge you to apply the same standards of commitment to human rights across all countries, to reverse your policy preventing F1 drivers and teams from publicly raising their concerns about the human rights record of the states which host F1 races, and for the FIA to establish a clear human rights policy,” he concluded.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

The Bahrain GP was cancelled in 2011 after the government suppressed demonstrations by pro-democracy protesters, resulting in violent clashes, deaths and arrests. The race returned to the calendar the following year but human rights groups have repeatedly urged those involved in the race to speak up for those sentenced to imprisonment or execution in the country.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Hamilton showed support for LGBTQ+ rights in Saudi Arabia
Last year Hamilton said he was “very moved” to hear some Bahraini prisoners had shown their support for him after he raised concerns over the human rights situation in the country with local officials and the UK’s ambassador to the country.

F1 has continued to expand its presence in the Middle East despite criticism of some countries it visits, notably Saudi Arabia which joined the calendar in 2021. In a statement supplied to RaceFans, Alwadaei claimed the FIA and F1 were lending legitimacy to regimes which commit human rights abuses by allowing them to hold F1 races.

“When the FIA and F1 choose to grant races to some of the world’s most repressive regimes, like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, they are facilitating sportswashing and allowing these dictatorships to launder their horrifying rights records,” he said.

“It is seriously disturbing to see the FIA now mimicking the tactics of its despotic business partners by attempting to muzzle the voices of critics and advocates. Where the FIA and F1 failed, it was drivers like Lewis Hamilton who stood up and called out abuse, and his vocal support for political prisoners in Bahrain shed light on appalling injustice. Now, the FIA wants to silence him and others, and punish them if they dare to speak out.

“We are saying to Mohammed Ben Sulayem that this policy is wrong and it must be reversed immediately.”

Don't miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

Become a RaceFans Supporter

RaceFans is run thanks in part to the generous support of its readers. By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the same in whichever currency you use) you can help cover the costs of creating,hosting and developing RaceFans today and in the future.

Become a RaceFans Supporter today and browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

2023 F1 season

Browse all 2023 F1 season articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2023 F1 season articles, F1 newsTags , , , , , ,

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 83 comments on “‘FIA’s attempt to silence Hamilton and others is seriously disturbing’ – rights groups”

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      24th January 2023, 18:50

      I fail to see how the FIA has the right to impose these restrictions on drivers. The only restriction that they should be allowed to impose when it comes to speech is unsportsmanlike or unprofessional conduct but we all know that the bar is set pretty high by Christian Horner and Gunther Steiner when it comes to that ;-)

      Why do drivers need the FIA’s approval to make any statement? When did racing become neutral to the issues faced by the world? These are all strange and dangerous decrees.

      I’m glad that Human Rights Organizations are actively urging them to tear them up.

      1. The same reason they can ban drivers for racist comments. That is also a restriction of freedom of speech, even if it is bad speech.

        They are the sporting body, they can ban the drivers for violating their rules. The drivers are free to make any statements they want, they just have to be prepared to be banned for not following the rules.

      2. Why do drivers need the FIA’s approval to make any statement? When did racing become neutral to the issues faced by the world? These are all strange and dangerous decrees.

        let’s see how this attitude that would hold up if a driver wore an anti-abortion/pro-life t-shirt at the British GP. I think there would be huge uproar and the very question that would be asked is “how could the FIA allow this to happen”.

        1. i would love for that to happen. the court of public opinion would make quick work of someone that oppresses a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body.

        2. Undoubtedly. I don’t think any team on the grid would condone behavior like that and sponsors would be likely to bail.

      3. Sport is supposed to bring people together; not polarize them over political issues. It is about a coming together on common, passionate ground (the first step in coming together on other issues by the way).

        If you want politics, watch the evening news.

        Ben Sulayem has made a very wise move. He is keeping the lid shut on Pandora’s Box.

        “If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander.” Ergo, we should stop criticizing Vladimir Putin because it is causing the poor man tremendous stress; potentially leading to a psychological breakdown. It’s abusive and degrading and it should stop.

        I am just as entitled to advocate for this Monster as any other issue because freedom of speech is freedom of speech.

        Is this far-fetched? Perhaps; but let’s be mindful of who Bernie Ecclestone’s favorite tyrant is. Hopefully the point is taken.

        I would also like to point out that the RaceFans website limits commentary so that things don’t spin out of control; and well it should.

        In sport and on certain related websites and so on; someone needs to impose limits.

        Like Vettel, if a driver wishes to advocate after he retires, more power to him. But as an active sports figure a driver or other involved individual represents Formula 1 by association and his/her views become the sports opinions (and by extrapolation, the fans positions as well).

    2. Super easy to see and understand. F1 is a public company which has clear guidelines with regards to non sanctioned political expression. These guidelines are mandated by the FIA and Each driver/team is free to use the endless amount of social media platforms to express opinions as they see fit.

    3. Super easy to see and understand. F1 is a publicly traded company which has clear guidelines with regards to non sanctioned political expression. These guidelines are mandated by the FIA and supported by the shareholders. Each driver/team is free to use the endless amount of social media platforms to express political opinions as they see fit.

      1. Not quite so black & white, let me explain:

        F1 is a publicly traded company which has clear guidelines with regards to non sanctioned political expression.

        F1 is separate from the FIA and it being a publicly traded company is irrelevant to this discussion.

        These guidelines are mandated by the FIA

        the argument is whether a motorsports governing body is overstepping its authority by imposing restrictions on freedoms of expression as defined by Article 19 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

        Each driver/team is free to use the endless amount of social media platforms to express political opinions as they see fit.

        Social media platforms are under scrutiny as well for their policies regarding expressing political opinions so this blanket statement is not correct.

        The hypocrisy of the FIA’s regulations is summed up well in the article

        In your own statement last year, you condemned the Russian invasion and expressed “sadness and shock” for victims in Ukraine. While I applaud this statement, it is clearly a political one. If you do not believe this can be considered political, it is unclear what is. F1 drivers must be allowed to enjoy the same rights as you [the FIA] are to freely express their moral stances.

        1. I understand the separation between the governing body and the rights holder. I also understand the semantic arguments on both sides. Notice I said “non-sanctioned, political statements.” The FIA like many other sports organizations have sanctioned messaging for various charities or political causes. No reason why the driver’s association can’t collaborate on the messaging which has been done in the past. Aside from the clear and obvious FIA ruling it’s simply become a matter of what was always understood to be proper decorum in most situations. Keep your politics to yourselves out of respect for the audience, the sponsors and the host countries which allow the drivers to enjoy the privilege of being paid millions to drive a race car for a living. Not everything is a platform. Sometimes it’s just a job

          1. F1 is absolutely a massive platform. and comparing it to the average 9-5 job doesn’t make any sense. those who try to silence people trying to make positive difference in the world, are instead showing the world that they support everything against it.

            1. A platform which has a set of rules much like this website or any number of other platforms. As Lewis is consistently mentioned as the target for these rules by some, what is the opinion of Lewis owning a team in the NFL which has a similar code of political conduct and expression. Is he the problem on one hand and a martyr on the other? This is all silly. Compete in the race and then leave the discourse for other platforms. It’s simple and seriously not a big deal.

            2. What if they’re considered a negative to other people then? Should they just allow all speech then?

              Remember that the world is a very wide place with very different cultural values and FIA is supposed to be a worldwide body sanctioning races across the globe.

            3. those who try to silence people trying to make positive difference in the world, are instead showing the world that they support everything against it.

              There are no words to express how incredibly incorrect that is.
              It is entirely possible to feel strongly about something without actually bringing it up at every opportunity.
              Especially occasions where it is clearly going to be out of place or a show of disrespect.

          2. … out of respect for the audience, the sponsors and the host countries…
            …Especially occasions where it is clearly going to be out of place or a show of disrespect.
            Maybe it would behoove the FIA to chose country that induce respect rather than the one that chop journalist into pieces. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of restrictions
            …What if they’re considered a negative to other people then? ….
            If they don’t consider the dismembering of political opponents “negative”, maybe FIA should not be dealing with them in the 1st place. Again Prevention….
            ….Remember that the world is a very wide place with very different cultural values and FIA is supposed to be a worldwide body sanctioning races across the globe….
            Russia must be from another planet then?

            1. None of that is the FIA’s problem.
              That stuff is all politics….

      2. @spencer Social media use by entrants (teams and their employees, including drivers) is very much are within the territory the FIA considers itself allowed to regulate. The International Sporting Code in particular bans all actions deemed prejudicial to the interests of the FIA and motor sports. Posting a social media message is an action. The FIA has made it very clear that it now considers non-pre-approved-in-writing political statements to be prejudicial to the interests of the FIA, therefore it has granted itself the power to ban all social media expression by teams and their employees (including drivers) that it deems political, unless it gave previous approval in writing.

    4. Doesn’t this ban on ‘unapproved’ political speech only apply to statements made during an event using F1 as the platform? Surely they can’t be trying to tell drivers what they can or can’t say away from events.

      1. Doesn’t this ban on ‘unapproved’ political speech only apply to statements made during an event using F1 as the platform?

        That was my understanding– and there is the path for approval in writing, although I doubt you’re going to get permission to criticize the local government during an event– regardless of what government is being criticized.

        I mean, what if a driver had shown up at the 2022 British Grand Prix with a shirt that says “Boris is a Criminal and a Knob”? It would be reasonable discourse in British society, and in general I think it would be “protected speech”, but it’s not really appropriate for the F1 World Championship event.

        1. You might think so, but thanks to the way the regulations are written, it’s not even within the regulations for a driver to tweet “Boris could do better” on their social media platform now. Such is the power of forgetting to add any limitations on where certain broad-based powers can’t be applied…

      2. SteveR, they’re not “trying” to tell drivers what they can and can’t say away from events – thanks to Articles 12.2.1.c and 12.2.1d of the International Sporting Code, they’ve succeeded.

    5. The FIA won’t allow drivers to make political statements but feels entitled to make their own very bad political statements by allowing races in countries with brutal dictatorships and is even willing to comment on the value of the commercial rights to F1. This is all temporary nonsense and I can’t see this FIA director lasting much longer. It’s the FIA itself who should stop making these political statements and should stick to their mandate.

      1. Um they don’t make polticial statements on those countries, they just hold races there. lol weird take.

        By your wide definition, they’re also promoting democracies when holding races there, which is also not their job and role.

        1. A western sport holding races in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, or China is itself a political statement. Some would argue the same about holding races in the USA.

          Yes, F1 does promote democracies when it races in countries with stable democratic governments. This is and has always been a large element of international sport.

          My point is the FIA has again lost its way and needs to be reminded of its role. The ban on speech is just one recent example of this.

        2. @yaru There is a significant portion of the global population who considers participating in activities in a given country to implicitly be a political statement, one that grows in significance according to the degree of activity taken, the amount of money/power that transfers in the process, the words and actions accompanying the activity, and the judgementalism of the people involved.

    6. So far MBS has been doing a poor job as the FIA president.

      1. And what were Todt’s accomplishments?

        1. Coventry Climax
          24th January 2023, 21:53

          EJRD: Don’t throw waste into the environment.
          Grat: But he’s doing it too!

      2. I’d argue Mr. Sulayem has been protecting the interests of the FIA quite well, also outside of Formula one and motorsports in general.

        It is not the FIA’s job to exploit F1 as the commercial rights have been forced to lease out by the EU for a long time, so him publicly commenting on the need for any owners of that license to be a net benefit for the sport’s ecosystem (not just in monetary value) is quite normal. The drivers and teams can, under these “oppressive” rules, still make any reasonable statement on their own platforms or when using the proper/formal FIA channels to do so.

        Furthermore, you would only make statements like these in public for transparancy, making a statement, or a combination of those. To me it seems like the FIA is sending a signal to FOM and the teams that although they run the circus, they do not run the sport and should act accordingly (see; resistance to Andretti entering when all parties signed the new Concorde agreement, including Max. entry count and a set anti-dilution fee).

        Reply moderated
    7. Whole heartedly agree with Lewis on this issue. The FIA have basically said, “we reserve the right to withdraw your right to free speech.”

      1. You forgot the rest of what the FIA said:

        “we reserve the right to withdraw your right to free speech.”

        “….in a very specific time and place (ours) – but you are free to go at it on your own time and media space.”

        1. In fairness the FIA forgot to say those things too (if you do not know what I mean, try re-reading Articles 12.2.1b and 12.2.1c, in the context that the FIA elected not to put any boundaries on when these powers can be applied, until you understand that there is no “in your own time and media space”).

      2. Um yes, they have the right to withhold free speech. That’s why they can ban drivers for racist comments.

        1. @yaru Indeed, they’re required to withhold certain forms of “free speech” due to the laws governing the organisation’s existence. (Only some of them, mind. Other forms, they’re required to protect).

      3. Right to free speech in Saudi Arabia? That is laughable. Most countries where F1 races do not have legal protections for free speech as you describe it.

    8. The FIA have basically said, “we reserve the right to withdraw your right to free speech.”

      Too many words. Delete “reserve the right to” and I think you’ve got it nailed

    9. What is the second of the “organisations” (plural) mentioned in the intro? The article seems to contain only statements by the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.

      That said, it’s unclear why the FIA has put itself in this situation. When a country invites F1 to come put on its show with the express purpose to make them look good, and even pays a huge sum of money to accomplish this, they obviously don’t want F1 to turn on their hosts and make them look bad. That’s not why F1 is there.

      Rather than getting involved, the FIA might as well advise participants that local laws apply on and off the track. The US-dominated online Anglosphere has contributed to the idea that the US First Amendment applies globally. It doesn’t. Rather, it’s perhaps the most radical such (constitutional) law anywhere in the world. Even across Europe that kind of (near) limitless freedom doesn’t fly, and there are plenty of things that cannot be said/published without attracting the attention of local authorities.

      1. MichaelN,

        The US-dominated online Anglosphere has contributed to the idea that the US First Amendment applies globally. It doesn’t.

        +1

        Also the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy is funded by National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which is also funded primarily by an annual allocation from the U.S. Congress to promote “democracy” in other countries.

        These NGOs in general don’t get funded just out of cheer volunteering purposes. They are politicized and serves the agendas of their funding countries and organizations and most of them work closely with intelligence of their funding countries.

        Strangely they are putting the pressure on the FIA in the same time they are having power struggles with Liberty media (an American company).

        1. @tifoso1989 Why is that strange? They’re both involved in the same event the organisation doesn’t like!

    10. I care about racing drivers’ political opinions as much as I care about politicians opinions of motorsports. Zero.

      I also suspect my boss and my customers care about my political opinions just as much.

    11. What I find strange is why so many people agree with this as all it does is stop drivers speaking, its not giving you anything extra by being brought in. The issues will still exist in this world no matter how far you bury your head in the sand to ignore them. The regula

      1. The regulation is a joke and will not silence anybody, long term it will damage the FIA.

      2. Um yea it does, just don’t talk about it during events. The drivers are free to talk about it on their own time outside events. Don’t turn F1 into a political battleground.

      3. What if we had a Russian driver in the field and he expressed his opinions and support for the invasion of Ukraine?
        Should that politically charged free speech be supported by FIA?

        How about Zhou speaking nothing but the highest of praise for the CCP in every single interview? Explaining to us blind Europeans how foolish we are for dismissing the CCP’s right to govern their citizens, and any treatment of a minority group is justified if the CCP deems it so, and none of our business as outsiders?

        How about a track representative from a Middle-Eastern country openly supporting the banning of girls going to school, and not receiving an education?

        These issues exist in the world because there are people who support them/benefit from their existence. Imagining that your opinion is the only correct one, and that nobody will have a differing opinion, who’s head is in the sand here?

        1. Spot on. And – as others have mentioned – the drivers have the whole world outside of F1 to express their political opinion.

        2. Still your head in the sand. I would imagine in the silly examples you provided, the drivers would quickly be “cancelled” and removed from the sport. That would be because freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence. Your lazy argument is often dragged out by fascists, silencing people because the views of others are uncomfortable.

          I also doubt you have much actual experience of life in either Russia or China to comment on them. Western propaganda is just as bad as their state restricted news, you only have to look at the war in Iraq to see western democracies invading a sovereign nation without any justification in the end. Things are rarely black and white, the difference is you’re supporting active censorship, while those against this regulation are not.

          I’m pretty sure if any driver stated something that brought the sport into disrepute they can already be penalised under the current rules. This rule is only there to silence criticism of the sports washing nations in the sport.

          1. I would imagine in the silly examples you provided, the drivers would quickly be “cancelled” and removed from the sport. That would be because freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence. Your lazy argument is often dragged out by fascists, silencing people because the views of others are uncomfortable.

            And what is it that makes one set of examples more silly than another?
            Every person has the right to hold their own values, culture and opinions – even though they may not fit the popular trend from certain parts of the world at the time.

            Since you’ve mentioned freedom of speech having consequences, that obviously includes potentially receiving penalties, sanctions and bans from international motorsport should someone show the FIA and their rules an extremely low level of respect.

            This rule is only there to silence criticism of the sports washing nations in the sport.

            No – it’s there to show respect for people of all countries, cultures, beliefs and preferences. Even those some people don’t like or agree with.
            It’s a concept many people seem to really struggle with – respect. Or perhaps they are simply not bothering to even try.

            1. You can respect others beliefs and criticise, the problem is a lot of the worst offenders kill people who speak out against them so there is a clear mandate for others to do so in their stead.

              As I made clear before if a driver brings the sport into disrepute there is already a clear process to penalise them, this regulation is not needed. Its sole purpose is to silence people. Best go tend to that bridge of yours anyway.

            2. The ISC is there for everyone. Not just the people you like, or those who hold certain values that you agree with.
              It doesn’t matter whether this is needed or not (in your opinion). It’s there, and it applies to all FIA motorsports competitors – not just those in F1.

          2. “Still your head in the sand. I would imagine in the silly examples you provided, the drivers would quickly be “cancelled” and removed from the sport.”
            How arrogant do you have to be, to assume that it is “the wrong opinion” as considered by you(or us westerners) that will be cancelled? You have no way of predicting how the public perception will evolve in the future, or how tolerant other nations will be toward our western values and our tendency to thrust our “better” lifestyles on them using sports and media.
            Qatar, as a recent example; would have been perfectly justified in handling western tourists, who blatantly and arrogantly broke their laws, much much more harshly. Qatar could have imprisoned hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists (and some pro footballers) for “spreading homosexual propaganda” and it would have been justified in doing so as it was the law of their own land/country.
            The fact that they did not, shows remarkable tolerance on their part IMO.

            “That would be because freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence. Your lazy argument is often dragged out by fascists, silencing people because the views of others are uncomfortable.”
            I can hardly imagine anything more authoritarian, nay, DRACONIAN than:
            You have Freedom of Speech, as long as you say the correct things, or else there will be consequences.
            Who exactly is more authoritarian/fascist in these discussions? The people who would rather F1 be focused on F1, or the people who want various political and social issues/opinions injected into F1, (but only if they are the correct opinions, other opinions must be cancelled of course).

    12. What I find strange is why so many people agree

      I find the opposite to be true.
      The drivers speaking are fine, but they don’t need to be speaking about these issues in F1. These are not F1’s issues.

      There are far more appropriate and productive times and places – that aren’t the completely unrelated leisure activity that motorsport is.

      1. It’s F1’s issue if they’ve chosen to race in a country that regularly commits gross human rights violations. This is all about preventing drivers from speaking up about it.

        1. It’s F1’s issue if they’ve chosen to race in a country that regularly commits gross human rights violations.

          No it isn’t.
          They’ve done a business deal to hold a sporting event – not entered into a political conference.

          Drivers who are that disturbed by it are free to find another job to do.

          1. Unfortunately as long as people believe nations exist and athletes represent them and travel between them to compete, you can’t really remove the political side of sport. Every decision to do or not do something can and will often be perceived to be political.

            1. Yep – but there’s political, and then there’s political…

              So the FIA made their case to all and are leaving it up to the competitors to agree or disagree with their decision on how they run their organisation and racing series’. All competitors have agreed to abide by the FIA’s code as a condition of their participation in the FIA’s events.
              Those who disagree with it and flout the rules are free to face the consequences of their actions.

              If anyone isn’t sure what is allowed under the FIA’s code, there is a provision for them to seek approval beforehand.
              It’s really not hard to follow the rules under which you voluntarily agreed to compete.

          2. Holding the event is in itself a political statement. Perhaps male a rule so politicians/leaders from nations are not allowed to attend and bask in the media glow and then it wouldn’t be political would it.

            1. Holding the event is in itself a political statement

              It absolutely isn’t.

              Perhaps male a rule so politicians/leaders from nations are not allowed to attend and bask in the media glow and then it wouldn’t be political would it.

              Do you understand the difference between internal politics and external politics?
              It seems not.

            2. It is a political statement, see I can express an opinion too.

    13. I’ll be interested to see where the line is drawn. Would Lewis’ rainbow helmet be prohibited for example even if it has no words associated with it? Would it be banned in Saudi Arabia but endorsed in Australia? If Lewis turns up with a rainbow helmet, would the FIA have it banned, thus making the political statement themselves? I fear this could get ugly.

      1. If Lewis turns up with a rainbow helmet, would the FIA have it banned, thus making the political statement themselves?

        The FIA have already made their political stance public. No unapproved political messaging on F1’s time.

        The important part about a rainbow helmet this year, though, is that that rainbow colour scheme has explicitly been removed from the We Race As One branding campaign.
        Anyone who chooses to run it will quite likely be asked why they didn’t seek approval first. That, alone, would be reason enough for it’s removal.

        1. That’s what I mean. If a driver turns up with one that hasn’t been approved and they’re asked to remove it, the headlines will be “F1 bans support for LGBTQ+ community” and media coverage will report how F1 has backtracked from its public 2020 stance. The broader media nor a non-fan will care to report or understand the nuance.

          1. You think a driver changing helmets would produce headlines? In general media?
            F1 and the FIA have very public support for such groups.

            I’d expect Liberty to be pretty miffed with such lies permeating the media if it did happen, though. On the other hand, there’s no such thing as bad publicity….
            The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about….

            1. 3 things get F1 media coverage in Australia: an Australian doing well, a big accident, and controversy. I think the media here definitely would pick up a story that can be framed as homophobia in the sport.

            2. In my experience, they are far less concerned about someone making up a story about homophobia in sport (which in this case would actually be a simple breach of the rules) and far more interested in the lad from their own country beating others from around the world on the international sports stage.

    14. Easy to agree with this FIA stance. I never thought I would agree with Bernie Ecclestone, but that was before the massive injection of American identity politics and Victim Olympics into F1 of recent 5 years.

      If I want to stay up-to-date with how bad things are going globally, I have other sources for that.
      I watch Sports for the entertainment, and to cheer on my guy/team.

      Whoever this representative from BIRD is, of course he will try to inject politics and victim propaganda in whatever he says and does. It is his job.

      However oppressed Lewis Hamilton claims his childhood to have been, and wants the his working class fans to believe, isn’t it public knowledge that he had the full backing of Ron Dennis and McLaren ever since he was 13 years old?
      What an unbelievably privileged position for a young driver to be in!
      Lets not discuss the enormous amounts of emissions Sir Lewis Hamilton has contributed to the planet here with his private jets and overall opulent lifestyle. Most people would not be able to contribute Sir Lewis Hamilton’s 1 year worth of emissions to the planet in their entire lives.

      1. Victim Olympics

        Mate, lay off the “independent news” sources for a while

        1. I wish Hamilton started campaigning and preaching about the difficulties that come with being such an extremely wealthy individual. How being in such an extremely privileged position, that even most kings and sultans in history would have trouble comprehending, is causing him so much stress.

          Lewis has had his private plane refurbished, and the quality of the toilet seats of the new interior is clearly below the toilet seats it used to have. Also, the 24 carat gold toilet paper dispenser is now rose gold, Lewis does not like rose gold. At least not the light colored rose gold, Lewis would have been somewhat satisfied if it was the rarer type of dark rose gold.

          The same goes for the bed on his plane, it is 3,7mm higher, and the springs are much too soft. Lewis can hardly sleep on his bed now. Lewis ordered his bed to be the height of his F1 seat, and the refurbishing company made the bed too high. There was a 5mm margin in the plans, but Lewis was confident it would not come into play.
          Lewis will have to re-refurbish the plane again now! This means Lewis will not be able to travel to the Bahamas, Ibiza, French Riviera, Malibu, LA Miami, or Las Vegas for an entire week!

          Also, the climate taxes he must pay on his plane, and various hyper cars, is more than he made in his first year in F1. How can there be no sympathy for a man who has to pay “taxes” the equivalent of his first pro year in his craft?

          Also, there is the difficulty of finding a spouse/partner/SO (definitely can’t use the word wife here).
          He is Sir Lewis Hamilton, first of his name, and he will never ever be sure that a companion really likes him for him, and not just his money, status, and lifestyle that he has accrued as a consequence of his career. This is the bane of his existence, and due to this extremely privileged status in life he has unfortunately found himself in, his dreams have forever been transformed to nightmares.

          F1 broadcasts need a new segment….

          1. Err… …the point of using one’s platform is to speak for people who have difficulty being heard. Rich people tend not to have this problem and thus, using the platform to talk about the difficulties of being rich is unlikely to be effective.

      2. It’s only easy to agree with this stance if you don’t like F1 and think it should cease to exist. This is a regulation that endangers the likelihood of F1 being allowed to continue existing, since this is of dubious legality even in France (where the FIA can be prosecuted).

        Ironically, I suspect this was brought in to try to comply with French organisational law, but missed the nuance that only some forms of speech can be prohibited.

    15. One of the problems with this kind of ban is that it can very easily backfire. As some have said, banning a rainbow helmet would most definitely get attention of the mainstream media (I think the FIA wouldn’t do it, but then they would open themselves to accusations of not enforcing their own rules). And Hamilton just have to answer “Sorry, I have a clear opinion on that, but am forbidden to express it” to start a public discussion anyway – which would include censorship accusations.
      In fact, just see how this subject has been discussed to death already – at a time where no driver is being pressed for comments.

      1. *when no driver (we need an edit button)

      2. Very true, I hope he or other drivers do something like that, would love some bad publicity for the fia for this censorship stuff.

      3. banning a rainbow helmet would most definitely get attention of the mainstream media

        Only if the wearer frames it to the media in a dishonest way. If he wears it in full knowledge that it is not allowed, there is no justifiable recourse.
        The FIA’s rules are clear, and the drivers have all voluntarily agreed to abide by them.

        And Hamilton just have to answer “Sorry, I have a clear opinion on that, but am forbidden to express it”

        “…right here and right now, but I’ll be happy to talk with you again in half an hour when the event is officially finished for today.”

        This argument comes up a lot, but I wonder if the people mentioning it have ever made a habit of imposing their political, social or religious views in their own workplaces, to their customers and the media – under the name of their employer?
        All the FIA are asking is for opinions on these topics to remain personal, and to not to be associated directly with the FIA or any of its brands (such as F1) in any way.
        Is that really that unreasonable? Really?

        1. “…if the people mentioning it have ever made a habit of imposing their political, social or religious views in their own workplaces, to their customers and the media – under the name of their employer”

          S,

          Regular people don’t have journalists shoving cameras and microphones at them, asking (almost demanding) answers to this kind of questions.

          Plus, most sports do not have to face them as much, as they’re essentially national-bound or have limited international exposure, with rare events in problematic countries. I’m no football fan, but even I was able to see how athletes and managers taking part in the Qatar World Cup were constantly being asked about these issues – and the backlash FIFA got over all of it.

          1. Regular people don’t have journalists shoving cameras and microphones at them, asking (almost demanding) answers to this kind of questions.

            So? These people live a highly public life by choice.
            Some of them are very clear that they don’t want or allow their personal or political views to interact with their work.
            Others, however, take every opportunity to exploit that opportunity for their own personal gain.

            It’s not that hard to say “I’m not here to talk about that” if they don’t want to talk about that. Or even if they know they shouldn’t, out of respect to others.

            1. It is given the FIA banned “I’m not here to talk about that” as an answer (it is, after all, a political statement, and the FIA didn’t give approval to say that in writing).

        2. Most people work in settings where genuinely non-political answers are feasible (even if that’s “Please ask [name of person in the organisation who *is* authorised to make political statements within certain boundaries in the context of genuine enquiries]”). Also, most organisations have the common sense to allow their staff to have political opinions in their own time and aren’t careless enough to ban them like the FIA did.

          F1 drivers used to be able to do that, before the FIA started regulating political expression, because the expressions they were allowed to do were completely defined by their organisations.

          After the FIA started regulating political expression, it was no longer possible to reference other people within the organisation. However, they also can’t reference the FIA, since they don’t work for the FIA and nobody seriously expects even the most blandly neutral worker within a team (or the most blandly neutral team) to have the exact same stance as the FIA. This is even more so in the last few years, where silence itself is considered a political position in its own right.

          Unless the FIA can anticipate every single possible political situation anywhere in the world, write and issue a stance to every one of its entrants and all their staff in time for them all to memorise them ahead of any possible question (which thanks to the pervasive nature of the FIA’s regulations, covers all personal social interactions, let alone social media), then the FIA’s position is not only of dubious legality, but also untenable.

      4. @jabr Especially since, technically speaking, that answer is also forbidden under the regulations!

    16. Reasonable discussion/comments! (Alert the media! /s/)

    17. If Lewis Hamilton or any other driver in the paddock criticised the British government during the Silverstone weekend, let’s say.. for losing 76 kids from a hotel where they’re supposed to be kept safe… I would have no qualms with that. They use their position and exposure to highlight something they think is wrong, what’s the problem?

      No extend that thought to other countries, and yes absolutely they should have that right.

      Otherwise these races are state sponsored PR and it’s a very dark thought to think that criticism can be outlawed. If you don’t like the heat then maybe get out of the kitchen.

      Frankly anyone disagreeing with my point of view can go and rot. We’re either human beings or we live in what is rather scarily heading towards a global fascist society where wealth and power has absolute control over you and me. You cannot support that.

      1. Indeed, pretty nasty people who one day karma will bite them in the ass.

      2. Frankly anyone disagreeing with my point of view can go and rot.

        Well, there we have it.
        The 4-year old has spoken, stamped his feet and stormed off to sulk.

        We’re either human beings or we live in what is rather scarily heading towards a global fascist society where wealth and power has absolute control over you and me. You cannot support that.

        We can only support what you support? Only one set of beliefs and values allowed without any room for individuality?
        Yeah, that does sound fascist….

        I don’t know how many times it needs to be said before some people actually get it, but the drivers ARE free to express their opinions in public on anything and everything they wish to.
        On their own time and under their own name and media space.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
    If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.