Formula One issues new rule on 'political statements'

By Sports Desk December 20, 2022

Formula One drivers will be required to obtain prior written permission to make "political statements" after the FIA updated its International Sporting Code.

The sport's governing body has added a new clause into its rulebook for next season.

It states: "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."

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who retired from F1 at end the end of last season, are among the drivers who have made political statements.

There was a ruled chance over attire after Mercedes driver Hamilton wore a T-shirt at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix protesting against the death of American Breonna Taylor.

He also competed in a rainbow pride helmet during races in the Middle East, while last year Vettel sported a rainbow-coloured T-shirt promoting LGBTQ+ rights ahead of the national anthem at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll were also reprimanded for failing to remove 'We Race As One' T-shirts at the same race as Vettel.

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    Mercedes chief Ola Kallenius believes Max Verstappen would "look good in silver" as he strongly hinted at the team's continued interest in the Red Bull driver.

    Lewis Hamilton is leaving Mercedes to join Ferrari at the end of the year, though the team are yet to announce who his replacement will be.

    Since Hamilton's announcement, Mercedes have talked up Verstappen, who has a contract with Red Bull until 2028.

    However, rumours have circled the Dutchman's future with the team after legendary designer Adrian Newey announced his departure at the end of the season, with Verstappen, who won the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend, stressing he wants to be in the "right environment" in the fastest car.

    Speaking to Sky Germany, Kallenius once again made his interest in drawing Verstappen over to Mercedes clear.

    "The best driver wants to have the best car. And that's our job, to bring the best package together," Kallenius said.

    "The cards will be reshuffled in 2026. New order with new rules. That's also an opportunity. Who knows?

    "But I think Max would look good in silver, wouldn't he?"

    Despite those comments, Toto Wolff previously confirmed there had been no official talks with Verstappen.

    It is rumoured that 17-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli could be in line to partner George Russell next season, while Verstappen remains an outside target.

  • Norris '99% happy' as McLaren continue Verstappen pursuit Norris '99% happy' as McLaren continue Verstappen pursuit

    Lando Norris described himself as "99% happy" with where McLaren are in their ongoing pursuit of Max Verstappen, but the Briton is desperate to start cutting into the world champion's lead.

    Verstappen finished two seconds clear of Norris to edge a keenly contested Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, extending his championship advantage to 69 points.

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    However, he was frustrated not to convert his pole position to a victory in Barcelona, having also fallen just short at the previous race in Canada.

    Norris rued a start to the race which saw him passed by Verstappen and Mercedes’ George Russell, who ultimately finished fourth behind the two championship contenders and team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

    "I should have done better," Norris said after the race, per BBC Sport. 

    "We should have got some points back on Max. Potentially there was a chance to beat him in Canada. Two races I have been second and he has won.

    "But Max needs to stop winning. He is still extending [his lead] at the minute but we cannot afford to let him run away with it. 

    "If I made some better decisions in Canada and had made a better start [in Spain], we would have won two races. We have what it takes; it’s just about putting it all together.

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    Verstappen and Norris both said after the race that the McLaren is currently the fastest car on the track.

    But Norris, who did triumph at the Miami Grand Prix last month, lost crucial ground to Verstappen as he remained behind Russell in the early stages until his compatriot pitted.

    He added: "I got a bad start, simple as that, and then I just couldn’t get past George. The car was incredible and we were for sure the quickest, I just lost it at the beginning. 

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    He added: "Austria and Silverstone – two of my favourite tracks. We are on a good roll. I just need to tidy up a few bits and then we will be on top."

    The result saw Norris move up to second in the drivers' standings, two points clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who had to settle for fifth place in Spain.

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    The Red Bull driver secured his seventh Formula One victory of the 2024 season in Barcelona, but needed to hold off charges from McLaren's Lando Norris and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

    Verstappen started the race behind pole-sitting Norris but soon fell down to third after George Russell surged to the front into the first corner.

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    "But then I think we did everything well, we drove quite, I think, an aggressive strategy, but luckily it paid out until the end – it was quite close until the end but very happy to win here."

    Pressed on those opening moments, Verstappen added: "I had to do a bit of rallying on the straight, I had to go onto the grass a bit, which lost me a bit of momentum, so then of course we braked quite late into Turn 1.

    "Then, of course, I was quite determined to try and get the lead. Once I was in the lead, I could look after my tyres a bit better, and that definitely made my race today."

    This victory extended Verstappen's championship lead to 69 points, with Norris now his nearest challenger and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc dropping back down to third.

    Considering this race success, Verstappen lauded his tyre-management ability.

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    "It was just managing the race throughout."

    Verstappen will now prepare for the Austrian Grand Prix next Sunday.

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