Lando Norris hopes the FIA eases the new restrictions it has introduced on drivers making political statements.As RaceFans revealed in December, a revision to the International Sporting Code for 2023 prohibits “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.”
Several drivers have already criticised the change and called on the FIA to clarify the broad new powers defined in the ISC. Speaking to media including RaceFans at today’s McLaren launch, Norris became the latest driver to question the change.
“I think it’s very important that it’s clear as drivers we can all voice our opinions,” he said. “I don’t think Formula 1 should go in the direction, or rules should go in the direction, of limiting what we can do and say and influence as drivers. Because we’re only wanting to do things for the best.
“We’re not going to want to use it in any wrongdoing way. We’re doing it because we have a lot of fans, millions of fans, millions of viewers who we want to influence and guide or to help them personally. So we should have freedom of speech.
“We should be able to say and do what we want. That’s what defines people, it’s what creates us, what makes us human. Of course there always needs to be good reasoning to do so and so on. It is better when, as a community, as Formula 1, we come forward as a group, we do statements and so on.”
The rule risks silencing drivers completely, Norris believes. “The drivers and ourselves should be able to have our own say in anything at the same time. As long as we have freedom of speech – I think that’s something Formula 1 are supporting it – then I’m happy.
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“But if things start to get blocked off and we can’t even talk and say anything then no one’s going to want to do media and anything because you just can’t say anything. Everyone is going to turn into a robot and just say the same things over and over again.
“So we need it, we are only trying to help people in the world and give advice and so on and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be allowed to do that.”
Norris isn’t sure how any drivers who broke the new rules might be penalised, but said: “If it’s a fine or something I’ll probably have to break it. If it’s a bit more then not.”
However he is hopeful that the response from drivers will prompt the FIA to rethink the rule. “I feel like there’s been quite a bit of pressure and enough said to maybe make a little bit of a U-turn,” he said.
“F1 I think have made things clear with what they think is acceptable and what we should be able to do as drivers. And I guess that’s what I stand by.
“I think we should be able to say what we want and what we believe in. Like I said, I don’t know the penalties and exactly how strict and whatever. But we’re not in a school, we shouldn’t have to ask about everything and say ‘can we do this, can we do that?’
“We’re grown up enough to try to make smart decisions and maybe sometimes people make silly decisions but that happens in life. So I hope so and I believe so, I think there’s enough drivers have said things now to push back a little bit.”
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