Lewis Hamilton says that nothing will stop him speaking up about important issues in Formula 1 and that “nothing changes” for him despite the FIA’s clampdown on political statements.
The FIA updated its International Sporting Code in December to prohibit drivers from making personal, political or religious statements at races without prior consent from F1’s governing body.
Although the FIA said the move was merely formalising a process that is already in place, a number of drivers have raised concerns about their ability to highlight important issues.
Hamilton has been one of F1’s most vocal figures about social issues, such as the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 amid activism around the world, improving diversity within motorsport, and LGBTQ+ rights.
Speaking following the launch of Mercedes’ new F1 car on Wednesday, Hamilton said he would still speak up on important issues despite the FIA’s update to the regulations.
“It doesn’t surprise me, but nothing will stop me in speaking on the things that I feel that I’m passionate about and issues that there are,” said Hamilton.
“I feel the sport does have a responsibility still, always, to speak out on things and create awareness on important topics, particularly as we’re travelling to all these different places.
“So, nothing changes for me.”
On the podium of the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, Hamilton wore a t-shirt with the message ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’ on the front in the wake of the killing of Taylor, a black medical technician, by police. After the race, the rules were updated by the FIA to require drivers to wear their race suits done up to the neck for the podium and post-race interviews.
Following the winter update to the ISC, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said he did not want drivers to use F1 as a “platform for private personal agenda”, but denied the governing body was “shutting any drivers” down.
But the rule change does mean that drivers could be open to sanctions from the FIA should they breach the rules surrounding political statements.
Asked if he would be prepared to take any penalty the FIA deemed appropriate for speaking up, Hamilton said: “I think it would be silly to say that I would want to get extra penalty points for speaking out on things.
“But as I said to you, I’m still going to be speaking my mind. We still have this platform, there are still a lot of things that we need to tackle.
“The support of Stefano [Domenicali, F1 CEO] I think has been amazing. I think all the drivers have been very much aligned on freedom of speech."