The FIA — the international governing body of motor sports — is banning all drivers from making any non-neutral “political, religious or personal” statements or comments without prior permission. The new rule is set to begin Jan. 1. “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 under its statutes, unless previously approved in writing by the FIA for International Competitions, or by the relevant ASN for National Competitions within their jurisdiction,” reads the updated international sporting code (ISC).This move comes shortly after FIFA did not allow teams or players to protest on the field during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said players should not protest during games to “respect football” as well as the different cultures from the 211 affiliated associations that make up the organization.FIA reference what FIFA and other organizations are doing to try to maintain political neutrality. The rule applies not just to moments during the race, also podium ceremonies.
“Article 12.2.1.n. is changed to enable the FIA to align itself to the practices of other similar international sports organisations such as FIFA, IOC and FIBA on the matter of neutrality by amending the ISC to this effect,” reads the code. “This will allow the ISC to widen its scope of application to cover statements/comments in violation of the general principle of neutrality.”The updated code will likely not sit well with everybody. Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton wore a rainbow helmet when he raced in Qatar — where same-sex relationships between men are illegal — in 2021. He and Sebastian Vettel, who is now retired, are two figures in the racing world who regularly campaign for social change.
Hamilton had a disagreement with the FIA earlier this year regarding their ban on jewelry and had even considered sitting out the Miami Grand Prix in defiance of the rules. As of Tuesday afternoon, he has not made any public comments about the new rule.