Watches added to FIA jewellery list

Lewis Hamilton

Drivers at the Miami Grand Prix have been told by Formula 1 race director Niels Wittich that watches are considered jewellery.

This weekend’s event is the first since a grace period afforded at the Australian Grand Prix has lapsed, necessitating the removal of jewellery while in the car.

In effect it is the full application of the existing rules within the International Sporting Code, put in place in the interests of safety.

However, the stance has sparked debate within the paddock with some viewing it as a personal attack and inhibiting on their personal expression.

Chief among them was Lewis Hamilton, who has claimed he has a number of items which cannot be easily removed.

Speaking ahead of on-track action getting underway the Brit said he was even willing to sign a waiver free the FIA from liability, but also wanted to enter discussion with the governing body about the hardline position it’s adopted.

It’s understood he took part in Friday’s track action while still wearing some items after he was given an additional grace period, understood to be two races, to have the more permanent fittings dealt with.

However, the matter has still not been fully dealt with as, ahead of Saturday’s running, Wittich issued a revised version of his event notes stating “In the interest of safety, watches will be considered as jewellery.”

It was the latest development in a bizarre storyline that saw Sebastian Vettel wearing underwear over his overalls for a time, a protest of sorts against the FIA’s insistence that drivers wear fireproof underwear.

That was also a bone of contention in Albert Park, with lengthy debate on what drivers wore under their race suits, and what they should be wearing.

The response of Hamilton and Vettel is in many ways an indication of the discontent among drivers with the new race direction team, and the rigorous way in which they are applying the sport’s rules.

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