13 January 2023

F1 drivers are now banned from supporting LGBTQ+ and other “personal agendas”

Drivers will be in breach of rules if they make "political, religious and personal statements" without permission from next season.

Formula 1 drivers will now need prior written permission from the sport’s governing body to make “political statements” from next season following an update of the international sporting code. 

On Tuesday, it was announced by Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) president, that drivers must not use their platform for their own “personal agenda.”

“We are concerned with building bridges. You can use sport for peace reasons… But one thing we don’t want is to have the FIA as a platform for private personal agenda,” Sulayem told reporters.

“We will divert from the sport. What does the driver do best? Driving. They are so good at it, and they make the business, they make the show, they are the stars. Nobody is stopping them.”

The 2023 version of the code, which applies to all series sanctioned by the FIA, was published on the governing body’s website with changes highlighted.

The FIA added a new clause regarding “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”.

Drivers who make such statements will now be in breach of the rules unless the FIA has granted previous approval in writing.

Mercedes’s seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and now-retired four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, have been among those making political statements at races in recent seasons.

Hamilton, who has been an outspoken campaigner for human rights and diversity, wore a black T-shirt at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix with the words “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” on the front. The shirt also had a photograph of the Black medical worker, who was shot dead in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment by police officers, with “Say her name.” The FIA set out new pre- and post-race rules for driver attire after that Grand Prix.

Hamilton has also called for more change in Saudi Arabia, saying this year that he was shocked to hear of mass executions, and has raced in the Middle East with a rainbow helmet in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

  • Writer Chris Saunders
  • Banner Image Credit Unsplash

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