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FIA clarifies new regulations restricting F1 driver speech



fia clarifies new regulations f1 driver speech

The FIA has taken steps to provide clarity on the newly introduced regulations which seem to impose restrictions on the freedom of expression of Formula 1 drivers.

Late last year, the governing body stirred controversy by approving revisions to the International Sporting Code which would require written consent for any “political, religious, and personal statement or comment” made by Formula 1 drivers.

The new version of the ISC represents a notable departure from earlier editions, which only prohibited the display of “political or religious” advertising on cars if it was deemed to be detrimental to the FIA’s interests. The updated code extends the restrictions to cover drivers’ personal statements and comments, which was not the case before.

The alterations sparked extensive disapproval from Formula 1 drivers, including George Russell, who is both a Mercedes driver and director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association. At his team’s launch this week, he described the changes as “silly and unnecessary”.

The FIA has now released guidelines in an attempt to provide more clarity on the reasons behind its decision to restrict drivers from making certain statements and to specify the circumstances under which drivers can make such statements.

The guidelines state that “the primary focus of any international competition should be on the sport of motorsport and the performances of the teams and drivers.” This explains the reasoning behind the principle and what it intends to achieve.

The guidelines emphasize that international motorsport events should not be utilized as a platform for individual advocacy.


Additionally, the principle aims to avoid placing competitors in a position where they feel compelled to publicly take a stance on a specific national or global matter when they would prefer not to do so.

According to the guidelines, drivers are allowed to express their opinions on any political, religious, or personal matter before, during, or after an event. They are also permitted to do so in their own personal space.

The FIA cites social media, interviews with accredited media, and FIA press conferences as examples of a driver’s “own space.” However, only the FIA press conferences allow for drivers to address political, religious, or personal issues in response to direct questions from accredited journalists.

The guidelines also state that drivers are prohibited from making such statements during on-track activities, such as the drivers’ parade, or during pre- or post-race procedures, including the podium, the cool down room, or the group photos taken at the start and end of the season.

However, the guidelines also state that drivers can be granted exemptions on a case-by-case basis for exceptional circumstances by the FIA. Applications for such exemptions must be submitted at least four weeks in advance unless in unusual circumstances.


The stewards overseeing the specific Grand Prix in question will be responsible for determining whether a statement or comment made by a driver is political, religious, or personal in nature.

In addition, the guidelines provide a non-exhaustive list of hypothetical scenarios that could be prohibited under the new regulations.


It is important to note that the list is not exhaustive and that stewards must evaluate the particular circumstances of each potential violation carefully when determining whether a driver has contravened the regulations.

Some examples of prohibited political statements provided in the guidelines include making references to “any living or deceased politically associated or politically sensitive individuals,” political parties, national governments, separatist movements, political or military conflicts, or “specific political acts or events.”

The guidelines also prohibit references to a religion, spiritual practice, or significant religious figure, as well as any statements that are critical of or hostile towards others’ religious or spiritual beliefs.

The guidelines also make it clear that non-proselytizing religious gestures, such as crossing oneself or pointing to the sky, will not be deemed prohibited religious statements.

The guidelines define personal statements as any statement related to a circumstance that is personal to the driver.

However, the guidelines stress that drivers are not permitted to use events as a platform to express personal statements of any kind that would violate the principle of neutrality.

In the event of a possible violation of the regulations, the guidelines stipulate that the race director must be informed, who will then notify the stewards.


If the stewards determine that a driver has breached the regulations, they may impose any of the penalties listed under Article 12.4.1 of the ISC.

The stewards have the discretion to issue a range of penalties if a driver is found to have breached the regulations. This could include a reprimand, a fine, a grid drop, or a time penalty, depending on the severity of the offense.

In theory, the stewards could even opt to suspend or exclude a driver from a Grand Prix if they determine that the driver has violated the regulations regarding the expression of political, religious, or personal views. However, it is important to note that such extreme measures are usually reserved for the most severe cases.

FIA clarifies new regulations FIA clarifies new regulations FIA clarifies new regulations


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