The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) will not allow drivers to make unapproved “political statements” from now on.
The governing body of motorsports in the world has amended its International Sporting Code which applies to all sanctioned motorsport divisions.
The new Code now includes provisions that ban its drivers from expressing or displaying “political, religious and personal statements”, unless pre-approved by the FIA.
The new rules (12.2.1.n) state:
“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.”
Any failure to comply with the governing body’s instructions “regarding the appointment and participation of persons during official ceremonies at any Competition counting towards an FIA Championship” will now be considered a breach of the regulations.
Violations may be punished with fines of up to 250,000 Euros or bans from races.
The updated ISC will come into effect on January 1st, 2023.
In recent years, the just-retired Sebastian Vettel and the seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton have used clothing and special liveries to shine a spotlight on significant geopolitical issues.
In 2020, Hamilton displayed a T-shirt that read “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor”, in reference to a 26-year-old medical technician who was shot by police in Kentucky during a raid on her apartment.
The FIA eventually responded by banning non-official clothing from being worn on the podium for future races.
Hamilton also took a knee while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt before each race after the murder of George Floyd.
Vettel, meanwhile, wore a rainbow-coloured t-shirt in Hungary in 2021 in defiance of the country’s anti-LGBTQ laws while this year his helmet in Montreal, sported a one-off livery and message denouncing Canada’s extraction of oil from the Athabasca tar sands.
FIA has stood with its drivers on important issues before but it remains to be seen how to new laws will effect their relationship.