FIA breaks silence on political statement clampdown following driver backlash

Jamie Woodhouse
FIA flag on display at the F1 Dutch Grand Prix. Netherlands, September 2022. Budget cap Red Bull

FIA flag on display at the Dutch Grand Prix. Netherlands, September 2022.

Many drivers were calling for clarity on the FIA’s clampdown on free speech, and now the governing body has moved to provide it.

This ruling has been one of the major talking points ahead of the F1 2023 season, with the FIA having outlawed the making of political, personal or religious statements by personnel at any event sanctioned by them, without having received prior permission for doing so.

But, with the majority of the Formula 1 drivers speaking negatively about this ruling, there was also a general call for clarification on what exactly the FIA’s intentions were, while Formula 1 as a whole was monitoring this situation.

The FIA had remained silent on the matter, but no more as the organisation has now made it clear exactly what will and will not be allowed.

In a document sent to all 10 teams, the governing body has confirmed that drivers may make personal, political or religious statements via their social media accounts, as part of an interview with accredited media or during an FIA press conference, as long as they were pressed directly on the subject by a reporter.

However, on the flip side, such statements cannot be made unprompted during an FIA press conference, or during any activities on the track or in the general area, plus pre or post-race procedures.

This then would put a stopper on actions like wearing T-shirts on the grid or podium with political messages, which both Lewis Hamilton and the now retired Sebastian Vettel have done in recent years.

That being said, the FIA has not completely closed the door on drivers speaking out during such scenarios, should there be “exceptional” circumstances and a compelling enough case can be made for bypassing the ruling.

It remains to be seen whether Formula 1’s ‘We Race As One’ message in support of equality will continue to be demonstrated. recommends

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Plus, the punishment which drivers would face for failing to respect the FIA’s stance has not been made clear.

Hamilton may soon find out, as he has vowed to continue speaking out despite this FIA ruling now being put in place.

“Nothing will stop me from speaking on the things that I feel that I’m passionate about and issues that there are,” Hamilton told media including

“I feel the sport does have a responsibility to speak out on things to create awareness and on important topics, particularly as we’re travelling to all these different places. So nothing changes.”