Paris — Motor sports’ governing body, the FIA, has cracked down on competitors making “political, religious and personal statements or comments” in its updated rules for next season.
The body’s International Sporting Code (ISC) concerning “breach of rules” now deems an offence “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.”
The FIA governs Formula One, world rally (WRC) and endurance (WEC) championships.
As of January 1, 2023 any statements will need to be “previously approved in writing by the FIA for international competitions or the relevant ASN (National Sporting Authority) for National Competitions within their jurisdiction”.
However, the nature of the sanctions which would follow a breach of rules were not specified.
In recent years, several high-profile Formula One drivers have used grand prix races to openly take a stand for a cause, in particular with messages on their clothing or helmet.
In 2020, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton donned a T-shirt on the podium of the Tuscan Grand Prix with the message “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor”, referring to the fatal shooting of a black woman in her home by American police.
Hamilton’s actions had led the FIA to review its protocol rules during post-race ceremonies.
In 2021, German Sebastian Vettel wore a T-shirt for the defence of homosexuals during the Hungarian Grand Prix and more recently, a helmet deploring Canada’s oil sands mining at the Canadian Grand Prix.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, an FIA spokesperson said “the ISC has been updated in accordance with the political neutrality of sport as a fundamental universal ethical principle of the Olympic Movement, enshrined in the Code of Ethics of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)”.