The 2023 Formula 1 season is on its way! It was recently announced that Formula 1 drivers will need special permission in order to make political statements. The Formula 1 campaign will pick up in Bahrain, starting on March 3. While fans and drivers are excited, the FIA’s new rules have prompted plenty of criticism.
In recent years, drivers have been making statements criticising some actions of the countries’ Formula 1 visits, and of events that have happened around the world. But, for this year, things will change.
Who has been making these statements?
Formula 1 is a great platform for drivers to make statements on. It is a popular sport. And it is getting more popular. Millions of fans tune in every weekend on TV to watch the races. In the last couple of years, we have seen drivers making political statements on the track. Drivers have been using their helmets or t-shirts to make different statements.
For example, at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton wore a black shirt that said ‘arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’. It was a bold choice for the winner of the Grand Prix. Hamilton is known for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and for destigmatising mental health.
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Moreover, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel is outspoken on issues surrounding climate change. At the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix, Vettel, now retired, criticised Canada’s climate crimes on his helmet. He ended up not wearing the helmet during the race but he was definitely noticed.
Sebastian Vettel also criticised the new Miami Grand Prix with a shirt that said ‘First Grand Prix under water‘. He explained that he did not understand why they were ignoring the fact that coastal areas like Miami were expected to by underwater in the next 50 years.
What is the new rule?
The new rule on making political statements states that drivers will need ‘approval in writing by the FIA for International Competitions’. The FIA also states that the general making and display of ‘political, religious and personal statements’ compromises the FIA’s neutrality statements.
However, the FIA has come under a lot of criticism for this new rule. Global athletes, an international movement led by sportspeople, has criticised the FIA saying that it should not be limiting the drivers human rights. The FIA has come under fire for limiting the driver’s freedom of expression.
In response to this criticism, the FIA has said that it is bringing itself in line with other athletic organisations such as the International Olympic Committee. These sporting organisations also have neutrality clauses.