F1 Bans Drivers from Making ‘Political, Religious and Personal’ Statements at Race Events

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

Photo: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images

Motor Racing’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), has announced a controversial new rule for Formula One drivers.

A new article was added to the FIA’s Sporting Code for race events, prohibiting drivers from “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,” ESPN reported on Tuesday.

The rule will likely be ill-received by some Formula One drivers, namely Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, who have used their platforms to advocate for social justice on several occasions.

After winning the Tuscan Grand Prix in 2020, Hamilton, 37, wore a shirt that read “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” on the front, with an image of Taylor on the back and the words “Say her name.”

Formula One subsequently changed the rules about what drivers can wear on the podium after races. In an interview with WSJ Magazine, Hamilton took the fairly obvious reaction to his statement in stride: “Well, they’ve changed a lot of rules after a lot of things that I’ve done.”

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Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

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Hamilton also spoke to WSJ. Magazine about being the lone Black driver to reach the top of Formula One, and the other sports icons that he’s looked to on his journey.

Hamilton could not be immediately reached by PEOPLE for comment on the rule change.

“My dad and I would watch people like Tiger [Woods] who kind of broke the mold, and we watched in admiration. The Williams sisters also did the same,” he said previously. “We’re like, ‘Oh, if we could do something like that, that’s going to help change the industry moving forward.'”

Vettel, 35, has also been one of the most outspoken personalities in the sport, and called out F1 for the environmental impact racing has on the planet in July. Vettel alluded to some of his criticism of motorsports in his retirement announcement.

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Aston Martin F1 Team waves to the crowd during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring. He earlier announced his planned retirement from the sport at the end of the 2022 season on July 28, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Aston Martin F1 Team waves to the crowd during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring. He earlier announced his planned retirement from the sport at the end of the 2022 season on July 28, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.

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“Speaking of the future, I feel we live in very decisive times,” the German driver said. “And how we all shape these next years will determine our lives. My passion comes with certain aspects that I have learned to dislike. They might be solved in the future, but the will to apply that change has to grow much, much stronger and has to be leading to action today.”

“Talk is not enough and we cannot afford to wait,” Vettel continued.

“There is no alternative. The race is underway. My best race is still to come. I believe in moving forward and moving on. Time is a one-way street and I want to go with the times.”

Hamilton showed support for Vettel’s statement in a tweet shortly afterward. “Seb, it’s been an honor to call you a competitor and an ever greater honor to call you my friend,” Hamilton wrote. “Leaving this sport better than you found it is always the goal. I have no doubt that whatever comes next for you will be exciting, meaningful and rewarding. Love you, man.”