Hamilton risks sanctions in Formula One rule chage

Lewis Hamilton risks sanctions for wearing rainbow helmets in support of LGBTQ+ rights as Formula One chiefs say drivers shouldn’t use the sport to push their ‘personal agenda’ or make ‘political statements’

  • FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem warned drivers could face sanctions if they make unauthorised ‘political, religious or personal statements’
  • Drivers will need to seek written permission from the governing body first
  • Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has worn Black Lives Matter t-shirts, taken the knee and spoken out in support of LGBTQ+ rights at races
  • Ben Sulayem told drivers the FIA was ‘not a platform for personal agendas’ 

Lewis Hamilton and other Formula One drivers face potential punishments if they make ‘political, religious or personal statements’ at races next season. 

International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Mohammed Ben Sulayem warned drivers could face sanctions if they make such a statement without approval.

Former world champions Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are among Formula One stars to have taken a stand on political and social issues at races in recent seasons.

Lewis Hamilton wears a rainbow-coloured helmet in support of LGBTQ+ rights at the Qatar Grand Prix in Doha in 2021

Sebastian Vettel wore a rainbow-coloured ‘same love’ t-shirt on the grid at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix 

Hamilton wore a rainbow design helmet in support of LGBTQ+ rights during the Qatar Grand Prix in 2021 and condemned anti-gay laws in Saudi Arabia.

The now-retired Vettel has campaigned on a number of topics, including LGBTQ+ rights and climate change.

Confirming an update to the International Sporting Code that governs Formula One, Emirati Ben Sulayem said: ‘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 agendas.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says the drivers will need to seek approval from the governing body to make such statements from now on

F1 drivers Lance Stroll (left), Sebastian Vettel (middle) and Lewis Hamilton take the knee

‘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.

‘There are other platform to express what they want. Everybody has this and they are most welcome to go through the process of the FIA, to go through that.’

Ben Sulayem rejected the suggestion the FIA was shutting down drivers, saying he wanted to ‘improve and clean up’ the sport.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton puts on a Black Lives Matter t-shirt before a 2020 race

‘I have my own personal things, OK, but it doesn’t mean I will use the FIA to do it,’ he added.

‘The FIA should be neutral, I believe. We need the superstars in to make the sport.

‘If there is anything, you take the permission. If not, if they make any other mistake, it’s like speeding in the pit lane. If you do it, it’s very clear what you get.’

The 2023 Formula One season gets underway in Bahrain in the first week of March.

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