The FIA’s decision that drivers may in future only make political statements with prior approval caused some resentment at the end of last year. While Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff suspected that this would certainly not be enforced so harshly, others are less relaxed.
In any case, Valtteri Bottas has a clear stance: “People in this world should be free to say what they want,” says the Alfa Romeo driver to ‘Sky Sport News’.
His former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in particular is known for campaigning against racism and discrimination of any kind and also for addressing social grievances in countries where Formula 1 travels.
But the FIA insists on “the general principle of neutrality” and has therefore added an article to the International Sporting Code criminalizing it “to make or show political, religious and personal statements or comments” unless they have been approved in writing beforehand.
From Bottas’ point of view, this falls under “control”, which he does not approve of. “I think everyone should be allowed to say what they want and do more things that they want or are passionate about,” stresses the Finn, challenging the new rule.
“In a way, I don’t see a need for something like that to be in the rules,” Bottas continued, “but if you look at it politically, from the side of Formula 1 or the organizers of a race, they want everything to run smoothly .”
“But usually our conversations are about making the world a better place. That’s my view. I don’t think it’s necessary, but that’s Formula 1.”
In 2020, the FIA responded to a protest by Hamilton after he wore a T-shirt on the podium at the Tuscan Grand Prix that read “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor”. The African American woman was shot dead during a police operation.
As a result, a new policy was enacted obliging the top 3 riders to keep their overalls closed to the neck during the formal part after a race, i.e. interviews and awards ceremony – instead of open to the waist.
This article was written by Juliane Ziegengeist
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The original of this article “Sharp criticism of the new FIA rule: “People should say what they want”” comes from Motorsport-Total.com.