F1 backs drivers following controversial FIA gag
By Ian Parkes
Wednesday 8th February, 2023 - 8:22am
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has defended the rights of the sport’s drivers against a controversial FIA regulation by insisting his organisation would “never put a gag on anyone”.
Domenicali’s comments add to the growing pressure on the FIA after it updated its International Sporting Code in December.
Motorsport’s world governing body announced that all drivers would require written permission should they wish to make religious, political or personal statements or comments during a grand prix weekend.
The edict was in response to the drivers increasingly speaking out on sensitive issues such as diversity, inclusivity, and the environment, with Lewis Hamilton and the recently retired Sebastian Vettel leading the way.
As the new season approaches, and with launch season in full swing, the likes of Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas, and Alex Albon have all spoken out, believing it wrong they should effectively be stifled by the FIA on increasingly important subjects.
Domenicali has now joined forces with his drivers. “F1 will never put a gag on anyone,” said the Italian, speaking to The Guardian.
“Everyone wants to talk, so to have the platform to say what they want in the right way the better it is.
“We have a huge opportunity because of the position of our sport which is more and more global, multicultural and multi-valued.
“We are talking about 20 drivers, 10 teams and many sponsors, they have different ideas, different views.
“I cannot say one is right, one is wrong but it is right, if needed, to give them a platform to discuss their opinions in an open way.
“We will not change that approach as a sport. That should be the line of our sport, to give everyone the chance to speak in the right way, not with aggressive tones or to offend but with respect.”
Domenicali – drivers need to be “human beings”
Perez stated the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association has yet to meet but that talks on the matter were inevitable.
Domenicali feels the drivers should be allowed freedom of expression providing their comments are considerate and respectful.
“We keep monitoring the situation,” added Domenicali. “We keep the drivers informed, we meet with the Grand Prix Drivers’ Associations to discuss it.
“How we can allow the drivers to be open as human beings in our sport. Athletes can be very emotional and passionate about some things and they need to discuss that constructively with people they trust.
“I had a discussion with the drivers about this last year, about how F1 could be a platform, to have a spotlight on certain things we believe are right to talk about.
“F1 should help the drivers if they want to discuss certain subjects. It is important to have a very constructive dialogue.
“If this is not happening it can create either confusion or problems where there need not be problems.”
Domenicali believes the FIA will soon issue clarity on its ruling, adding: “We are talking about a regulation and the regulator is the FIA.
“I believe the FIA will clarify what has been stated, in terms of respecting certain places where you cannot do it.
“I am sure the FIA will share the same view as F1 but they are part of an Olympic federation so there are protocols to which they have to abide.”
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