Carlos Sainz warns FIA that free speech clampdown could ‘backfire’

Jamie Woodhouse
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Yas Marina, November 2022.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Yas Marina, November 2022.

While Carlos Sainz does not think the FIA’s free speech clampdown will change much for him, he can foresee this decision backfiring.

With the F1 2023 season now feeling very real, launch season done and dusted, the drivers have been back in front of the cameras as they turn their focus to the campaign ahead.

But one of the main talking points has been the FIA’s decision to ban any personnel at an event sanctioned by them from making political or religious statements, unless they get prior permission to do so.

This has so far generated a mixed response throughout the Formula 1 paddock, though the drivers are largely united in criticism against the ruling and want clarification on what exactly the intentions of the FIA are.

In recent years Lewis Hamilton and the now retired Sebastian Vettel have been the drivers to commonly use their platform to speak out, while Formula 1 as a whole has been committed to its ‘We Race as One’ message in support of equality.

And while Sainz does not believe that the FIA’s clampdown is going to change much for him, as “taking very strong stances” has never been his thing, he does believe that the FIA have put themselves in a “tricky” position by creating a ruling on this matter.

“Personally, I don’t think it will affect me massively because I’ve never been a driver taking very strong stances,” he told Sky Sports F1 at the launch of Ferrari’s 2023 challenger, the SF-23.

“I always do use my social media to express my concerns or my values as every athlete does nowadays, but I do feel it’s honestly a very tricky call made by the FIA there to try to suddenly ban this freedom of speech or freedom to express yourself and your worries about the modern world.

“I think it could backfire at some point. ”

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The other question to be answered is how will someone be punished if they go against the FIA’s ruling?

So, Sainz feels sit-down talks are needed to bring some clarity to this situation.

“Also, I think we need to all sit down and see exactly what are the penalties for talking, for not talking, and how are we going to be treated?,” Sainz concluded.