Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz wants a wider debate on the impact that designs of modern Formula One cars are having on driver health.

Constructors in the series have taken steps to counteract the impact of 'porpoising' (or bouncing of the car) brought about by new aerodynamic rules, including making suspensions stiffer.

The rule changes were brought in with the intention of increasing opportunities to overtake, but one of the impacts of that has been the extra 'porpoising'.

Sainz, who sits fifth in this season's driver standings, has been in Formula One since 2015 and says he can already feel the toll taken on his back and neck.

Asked prior to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix how the issue may be particularly prominent on the street-race of Monaco at the end of this month, Sainz said: "It's more than Monaco.

"How much toll should a driver pay for his back and his health in an F1 career with this kind of car philosophy?

"I think we need to open the debate more than anything.

"I think the regulations are great. They're doing exactly what we needed for racing. But do we need to run as stiff for our necks and back as we are having to run lately?

"I've done my usual checks on my back, neck tightness, and I see this year I'm tighter everywhere.

"I don't need expert advice to know that 10 years like this it's going to be tough, and you're going to need to work a lot in mobility, flexibility."

McLaren driver Lando Norris, a former team-mate of Sainz, offered suggestions to limit 'porpoising'.

"I would have thought you'd have much worse effects from crashing a car at 50 or 60G like some of us have done," Norris said.

"There are also many ways for them to stop porpoising. Like lifting your rear ride height 20mm."

Fernando Alonso claims seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton now knows how the other drivers feel, as Mercedes struggle to keep up with the pace-setters this season.

Hamilton, 37, won six of the seven titles leading into the 2021 season, but he appears incapable of getting back to the mountain top just now, with Mercedes so much slower than Ferrari and Red Bull.

Alonso, 40, won back-to-back championships in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, and after a strong run with Ferrari in the early 2010s, he struggled mightily after his move to McLaren, finishing 17th, 10th, 15th and 11th from 2015 to 2018.

After trying his hand at other racing disciplines in 2019 and 2020, Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine in 2021, where he is now partnered with Esteban Ocon as the two battle it out in the midfield with a car that cannot compete for wins.

Speaking to BBC Sport ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Alonso highlighted how often the success of a driver can be out of their hands, and expressed only limited sympathy for Hamilton's struggles this season.

"This is the nature of the sport," Alonso said. "Sometimes you have a better car, sometimes you have not such a good car and you still need to fight and make some progress.

"This year we see that the driver is very important in F1, but not crucial. Lewis is driving as good as he has been the last eight years. He was dominating the sport and breaking all the records and 100-and-something pole positions.

"Now he is doing a mega lap – as he said in Australia or somewhere like that – and he is one second behind. So, yeah – welcome."

Alonso compared his championship years to Hamilton's, saying often the true stars of the team are behind the scenes, while the drivers get to soak in all the glory.

"To have more than 100 pole positions in F1 is something unthinkable. You need to have the best car and package for many, many years," Alonso said.

"He deserves everything he's achieved in the past, but this year is a good reminder that in all those records and numbers, there is a big part on what you have in your hands as a package in the car."

In a show of respect for this generation's most successful driver, Alonso predicted Hamilton will rebound from a slow start and finish ahead of team-mate George Russell this season.

"George has been very fast in the last few years and I think everyone was expecting him to be a tough competitor for Lewis," Alonso said. "But I still believe Lewis will eventually finish the championship in front.

"This is just a five-race championship [so far], but eventually when things are more tricky or [there are] difficult situations, Lewis will still have more experience and maybe more talent."

Formula One has confirmed there will be just 22 grands prix in the 2022 season after cancelling the Russian Grand Prix earlier this year.

F1 bosses tore up their contract with organisers of the Russian race in March.

Promoters Rosgonki had a deal that was due to run until 2025, with St Petersburg due to replace Sochi as host of the race next year.

However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine led F1 chiefs to declare the 2022 race in Sochi had been cancelled, and it has now been confirmed there will be no replacement, meaning just 22 races will take place instead of the previous 23.

A statement on the F1 website on Wednesday read: "The 2022 Formula 1 calendar will now run to 22 races rather than the originally planned 23, following the decision not to replace the Russian Grand Prix.

"It was announced on February 25 that, following meetings between Formula 1, the FIA and the teams, the championship would not race at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, which was set to be held on September 23-25.

"But it's now been revealed that there will be no additional Grand Prix added to the calendar to fill the gap – meaning the 2022 calendar will run to 22 races."

After five races of the 2022 season, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc leads the way in the drivers' standings on 104 points, with defending champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull in second on 85.

The Spanish Grand Prix takes place on Sunday in Barcelona.

The drivers' and constructors' championships both heating up as Formula One makes its seasonal return to Europe seems fitting. 

After legs in the Middle East, Australia and North America, Red Bull are comprehensively in the fight against Ferrari heading into this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

With consecutive race wins at the Emilia Romagna GP and Miami GP following DNFs in Bahrain and Australia, Max Verstappen has closed the gap to standings leader Charles Leclerc to 19 points.

After coming perilously close to such an error at Imola, a single mistake or DNF for Leclerc and a full points haul for Verstappen could see momentum in the drivers' championship completely shift.

Barcelona is a happy hunting ground for Verstappen, who claimed victory there in 2016 in only his first drive for Red Bull.

It could continue if the reigning world champion secures pole position, having converted 14 career poles into 10 race victories, the best rate of any driver in F1 history.

Meanwhile, with Sergio Perez also contributing with solid driving and good race pace on Sunday, Red Bull have cut the gap in the constructors' standings to only six points.

Only in Monaco have the team collected more points than in Spain, with 332 compared to 312, but that could change this weekend.

With a fifth consecutive top-four finish, Perez could equal his best such run of results, recorded between Turkey and Qatar last season.

Ferrari set for upgrades

The gravity of Red Bull's resurgence could arguably be crystallised in the likelihood Ferrari will have upgrades installed for this weekend after only tinkering and researching on race weekends to this point.

Leclerc will be looking to lead from the front, with all four of his race wins in F1 coming from pole position.

Carlos Sainz will also be hoping for a strong finish at his home grand prix, where he has accumulated the most points (40) in his career alongside Monaco.

Can Mercedes challenge?

While they might not be a championship contender in either the drivers' or constructors' standings, Mercedes have at least shown improved performance to potentially challenge for podiums and race wins.

The Silver Arrows come into this contest having taken the past nine pole positions in Barcelona, and they will likely need to make it another to challenge on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton is still waiting to surpass Michael Schumacher for the most consecutive seasons with a race win.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 104
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 85
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 66
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 59 
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 53

Constructors

1. Ferrari 157
2. Red Bull 151
3. Mercedes 95
4. McLaren 46
5. Alfa Romeo 31

Formula One's governing body the FIA could have taken a "different approach" to enforce the jewellery ban on drivers, even if it is right to impose the ruling.

That is the message from Alex Wurz, who is regularly involved in education on driver safety in his role as Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) chairman.

New race director Niels Wittich, who replaced Michael Masi at the start of the season, reminded drivers at the Australian Grand Prix in early April that the FIA's code prohibits drivers wearing jewellery in the car.

Wittich reiterated the same message before the Miami Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton was embroiled in a stand-off with the FIA over piercings that he has raced with for years and says he cannot remove.

The FIA prohibits wearing body piercings or neck chains in competition, but offered Hamilton a two-race grace period to remove all of his jewellery before the Monaco Grand Prix on May 29.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, who agreed to remove his earrings in the car for the Miami race, insisted Formula One risks taking "a step backwards" with "bigger fish to fry" in the sport.

Wurz believes the ruling, which has been in place since 2004, should be enforced, but suggested the FIA could have handled the matter in a different fashion.

"It is a rule for the right reasons," said ex-driver Wurz. "I would have probably liked a slightly different approach of how to deliver the message.

"I don't want to end up in football where there are more hands in the air and verbal abuse...you have to work together. It's a style I would have preferred in this case."

Wurz also said he could not forget a talk he attended in his younger days by Danish former driver Kris Nissen, who had a serious crash involving a fire accident at the Fuji circuit in Japan in 1988.

"He showed his body and said 'look at this'," Wurz added.

"For him the absolute most painful thing after fire, and it wasn't a long fire, was the rubber [elastic] in his normal pants being burnt into the skin. He said [it was] for years agony and pain. And it educated me.

"At this moment I said I don't want to live these consequences, only for [not] taking my pants off and putting fireproof underpants on. The same with jewellery."

Formula One next heads to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Sebastien Vettel says Formula 1's contribution towards climate change has made him consider his future in the sport.

Aston Martin driver Vettel is known for his environmental and political activism, having previously worn the pride flag at last year's Hungarian Grand Prix and organised an all-women karting event on the weekend of the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix last week, Vettel wore a t-shirt featuring the slogan: "Miami 2060: First Grand Prix under water, act now or swim later" in an attempt to draw attention to the issue of global warming.

Speaking on BBC debate show Question Time on Thursday, the four-time drivers' champion said the environmental impact of travelling the world to race had made him think about his participation in the sport.

Asked whether his involvement in the sport made him a hypocrite, the 34-year-old replied: "It does, it does, and you're right when you laugh.

"There are questions I ask myself every day, and I'm not a saint.

"Certain things are in my control and certain things are not. It's my passion to drive a car, I love it and every time I step in the car, I love it.

"There's things that I do because I feel I can do them better. Do I need to take a plane every time? No, not when I can take the car.

"When I get out of the car, of course I'm thinking as well 'Is this something that we should do, travel the world, wasting resources?'"

Vettel sits 14th in the drivers' championship standings after being classified 17th when failing to finish in Miami, having missed the first two races of the 2022 season after testing positive for COVID-19, and will be out of contract at the end of the campaign. 

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff has refused to rule out the team reverting to an older car concept as they continue to trail Red Bull and Ferrari after enduring a poor start to the season.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished fifth and sixth respectively at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on Sunday as the team's difficult start to the 2022 campaign continued, leading Wolff to declare Mercedes were "in no man's land" as the third-fastest outfit on the grid.

Both drivers have criticised the feel of the team's W13 car after managing just one podium finish apiece this term, with seven-time drivers' champion Hamilton asserting the team were yet to take a "step forward" after a troubled start to the season.

Mercedes' eight-year run of constructors' championships now looks destined to come to an end, with Ferrari possessing a slender lead over Red Bull in the team standings after five races.

Speaking after reigning world champion Max Verstappen claimed victory in Florida, Wolff said a return to the car concept used during pre-season testing at Barcelona could not be ruled out, despite it being "clearly much slower on paper".

However, Wolff said the team's focus had to be on making the current iteration of the car work.

"We need to find out how we can make the current car work predictably for the drivers," he said.

"I wouldn't discount anything. But we need to give all of our people that have produced great race cars in the past the benefit of the doubt and we believe this is the route to go.

"We are faithful to the current concept. We're not looking at the lady next door [to see] if we like it more or not, because it's still good. 

"We need to understand, before we make a decision on another concept – where did this one go wrong? And what is the goodness of the concept and what is the badness of the concept?"

Lewis Hamilton was frustrated to be asked to make the call on whether to pit under a virtual safety car during the Miami Grand Prix. 

It seemed like Hamilton would take advantage of the opportunity to switch onto fresh tyres after Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly collided, as team-mate George Russell did. 

However, Mercedes appeared to dither on whether to pit the seven-time champion, who eventually opted to stay out on the hard compound. 

Hamilton ended up being overtaken by Russell in the closing stages and finished directly behind him in sixth, with the two Ferraris coming between race winner Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. 

The Mercedes driver did not understand why he was left to make the call on whether to pit or not. 

"In that scenario [the virtual safety car], I have no clue where everyone is, so when the team say it's your choice, I don't have the information to make the decision," Hamilton told Sky Sports. 

"That's what your job is, make the decision for me; you've got all the details, I don't. So, that's what you rely on the guys for, but today they gave it to me and I didn't understand it. 

"But anyway, it's just been a bit unfortunate with the safety car, but at least we got points today. We're finishing, reliability is good. I'm excited to at some stage to take a step forward, which we haven't yet." 

Team principal Toto Wolff revealed Mercedes are struggling for morale as the usually dominant team continue to find themselves quite a distance behind Red Bull and Ferrari this season.

"George stayed out a long time, and we were betting on a safety car for him and that materialised from nowhere, but it went against Lewis, who lost a position," said Wolff. 

"At the end of the day, there's no happy or not happy moment at the moment. It's just a bit down. We're third quickest on the road, which is no man's land. This is where we are. 

"We're not as quick in qualifying sometimes, and you have the outliers, and we go back to where we are, which is behind the Red Bulls and Ferrari." 

Russell, who failed to get out of Q2 on Saturday and started 12th, believes Mercedes do have a good car this year but are yet to find a way to get it working well for them.

"It was mixed feelings. Based on [Saturday] it was a good result. We have a fast race car in there, we don't have the key to unlock it. There's more to do," he said. 

"It's frustrating, but I'm sure we'll get there at some point. 

"It's good, when you battle with your team-mate, you show more respect, give more space. I enjoyed it. I think there's good respect between us. I was pushing as hard as I could." 

Charles Leclerc thought he was going to catch Max Verstappen towards the end of the Miami Grand Prix before settling for second place. 

Ferrari driver Leclerc qualified on pole but was overtaken by Verstappen – who started third – on lap nine and was almost eight seconds behind when a safety car was deployed with 16 laps remaining. 

Leclerc was initially able to keep pace with the reigning Formula One champion after the restart but was unable to find a way past the Red Bull even with DRS enabled. 

The Dutchman pulled out the fastest lap to get away from the championship leader, whose lead was consequently cut to 19 points. 

"It was a very difficult race physically. We struggled quite a bit on the medium tyres in the first stint and got overtaken. It made our race a bit more difficult from that moment onwards," said Leclerc. 

"On the hard we were very competitive and towards the end I thought I could get Max at one point, but they had the advantage in terms of pace. 

"We need to keep pushing. Upgrades will be important, and I hope now we can do a step up from the next race onwards. It has been an exciting beginning to the season and that's what we like to see." 

Verstappen acknowledged he had to dig deep in order to follow up his success at Imola with another victory. 

"It was an incredible grand prix. Very physical as well, but I think we kept it exciting until the end," said Verstappen. 

"I am really happy with winning here in Miami, it was an incredible Sunday for us." 

Carlos Sainz kept Sergio Perez at bay after the restart following the safety car to get back on the podium after retiring early in the previous two races. 

He had to battle through the pain barrier to achieve it, because he was still feeling the effects of a crash in practice. 

"I have been better. Obviously after the crash on Friday, I had a little bit of neck pain going into the race, but I had to manage it and I fought through it," said Sainz. 

"Especially with Checo [Perez] at the end on the medium tyres he was very difficult to keep behind, but we managed to keep the volume, which is a decent result.  

"It wasn't easy at all. It has been a tough race with the tyres and the heat, the car was sliding a lot, and we got what we deserved, I think, which is a decent P3, and we can build it up from here." 

Max Verstappen sealed his second straight Formula One win by getting the better of Charles Leclerc at the maiden Miami Grand Prix. 

Reigning champion Verstappen – who started in third – got past Carlos Sainz and pole-sitter Leclerc in the early stages and never looked back. 

It was not entirely plain sailing for the Red Bull driver, with a safety car deployed after Lando Norris collided with Pierre Gasly seeing his seven-second advantage evaporate. 

Leclerc was on Verstappen's tail thereafter, but the Dutchman got out of DRS range by setting the fastest lap and cut the Monegasque's championship lead to 19 points. 

Verstappen got away well at lights out and dived down the outside of Sainz at Turn One, while DRS helped him reel in Leclerc by lap nine. 

Leclerc was unable to retaliate with the Ferrari lacking pace on the straights, and Verstappen gradually established a lead of almost eight seconds. 

The collision between Norris and Gasly, which forced both drivers to retire, initially brought out a virtual safety car on lap 41 of 57, but that was quickly upgraded to a full safety car. 

Neither Verstappen nor Leclerc were able to get into the pits quick enough for fresh tyres, but the Ferrari man was seemingly energised by having the Red Bull back in his sights. 

However, after failing to make a move, Leclerc started to lose time and Verstappen took the chequered flag in relative comfort.

Red Bull are hopeful DRS and a strategic edge could help them overhaul Ferrari in Sunday's inaugural Miami Grand Prix, with drivers expecting racing to be difficult on a surface that has been branded "a joke".

World championship leader Charles Leclerc took pole ahead of Carlos Sainz as qualifying ended in a Ferrari one-two.

Max Verstappen was third ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who did not mince his words when asked about the track following qualifying.

Echoing a sentiment shared by seemingly every driver in the paddock, Perez was emphatic in his criticism of a lack of grip off the racing line.

"I think most importantly the surface is a joke," Perez told Autosport when asked if there will be overtaking during the race.

"Tomorrow the racing is going to be difficult. And you're going to have the drivers making mistakes because we've been put into this situation."

With racing potentially set to be compromised, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pointed to the deployment of DRS on straights where Red Bull have a pace advantage over Ferrari as an area where the race could be decided in their favour.

Praising the performance of Verstappen, whose qualifying session was impacted by a lack of track time in Friday practice because of gearbox and hydraulics issues, Horner said: "Max has been on the back foot, he's down on laps on the other guys and still learning about the track so it's a good recovery from him.

"We know both our cars have good straight-line speed and the DRS could be pretty powerful here tomorrow, and with all the support races the braking zones should open up a bit, so there are a couple of places where we should be able to overtake.

"Strategy and pit stops will be crucial, as no one has really been able to do any long runs, it should be a fascinating contest tomorrow."

Leclerc topped the timesheets with a lap of one minute and 28.796 seconds, reaping the benefit of upgrades that appear to have strengthened the hand of the team that have emerged as the favourites to win both championships.

"It's definitely better," Leclerc said of the performance of his F1-75. "Yes, I mean both cars are very competitive, so Carlos and I are very competitive.

"So, it's great for the team and yes, we'll push to try and finish in the same positions tomorrow.

"It is a very strong package that we have, it works in more or less every condition since the beginning of the season so that is a good sign for the future.

"As I've said many times, the upgrades this year will be very, very important. We've had a few here that went in the right direction and hopefully we'll have a few more throughout the season to stay on top."

Verstappen will be out to ensure Ferrari do not stay on top in Florida and joked he may need to call his father for advice, former F1 driver Jos having recently returned to motorsport as a rally driver.

He said: "It's quite slippery outside the racing line, it almost feels like gravel, maybe I need to call my Dad and ask for some rally advice."

Charles Leclerc knows there is work still to do, but his Miami Grand Prix qualifying debut went entirely to plan as Ferrari's main man claimed pole position and was joined on the front row by Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc was able to secure pole for the third time in five races this season despite complaining he had not run his best lap on Saturday.

The Scuderia superstar profited from a late error from Max Verstappen, who had to settle for third, also letting through Sainz – back on form following his practice crash on Friday.

It puts Ferrari in a great position for a third win of the season, as many as they had managed in their previous three years combined, with Leclerc converting his previous two 2022 poles. All of his four career victories have come after qualifying fastest.

Each of the past four races in the United States have been won by a different driver – none of them being Leclerc – with three of them starting from pole.

"The last weekend hadn't been great for me [at the Emilia Romagna GP]," Leclerc said. "I made a mistake in the race.

"But today went well. We are starting on pole and we need to finish the job tomorrow.

"Red Bull are extremely quick in the straight lines, we are quick in the corners, and it will be a tight challenge tomorrow. But hopefully we will come back on top."

Leclerc is right to be wary of the threat of the Red Bulls in third and fourth, as Verstappen still believes he is in a good position to contend.

"Of course, you want to be on pole," the world champion said, "but where we came from, we've done a really good job.

"We have to start making the weekends a little bit less difficult because, like this, it's always going to be tricky.

"We have a good chance tomorrow. The car is handling quite well, so I'm looking forward to it."

Mercedes had taken pole – and subsequently won – at each of the previous six new Formula One circuits, but George Russell failed to get out of Q2 while Lewis Hamilton made do with sixth.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:28.796
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.190secs
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.195s
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.240s
5. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +0.679s
6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.829s
7. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0.894s
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.954s
9. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +1.136s
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1.880s

Real Madrid's dramatic Champions League turnaround against Manchester City showed Carlos Sainz he has plenty of time to get his Formula One season back on track. 

Riyad Mahrez looked to have done enough to deny Madrid a place in the final of Europe's premier club competition on Tuesday but two last-gasp goals from Rodrygo forced extra time at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Karim Benzema's penalty then gave the Spanish giants a 6-5 aggregate semi-final victory to book their place in the showpiece match against Liverpool. 

Madrid fan Sainz is finding himself under pressure to turn things around at Ferrari, having been forced to retire in the opening stages of the previous two races. 

Ahead of this weekend's maiden Miami Grand Prix, Sainz joked that anything is still possible for him this season given the feat Madrid managed to pull off. 

"Missing the 600 kilometres [of the past two races] hurts me more than the zero points, because the kilometres are what make you learn about the car and the new regulations," he told AS. 

"I did a test in Imola in which I also had a problem, but we are recovering as best we can. It's part of the athlete's life. There are always better and worse moments. 

"The last two races have not been ideal – far from it – but we have also had a bit of bad luck. Now we want a clean weekend to try to recover. 

"Madrid had it worse. I have 19 races left. Madrid had five minutes left!" 

However, Sainz revealed that promotional duties meant he missed Rodrygo's late double. 

"It was amazing. I missed the last few minutes of chaos because I was in the middle of an event with Shell. It shows that nothing is decided until the last minute," he added. 

Lewis Hamilton has hit back at Helmut Marko's suggestion he should have retired last year, calling the Red Bull advisor's words "disrespectful" and pledging to use any criticism thrown his way as "fuel".

Hamilton has made a poor start to the 2022 campaign after losing the drivers' championship title to Max Verstappen in a thrilling conclusion to the 2021 season, finishing 13th at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix last time out.

After the seven-time world champion was lapped by Verstappen at Imola, Marko, who made nine Formula One starts in his own racing career in the early 1970s before being made blind in one eye by an accident, suggested Hamilton might be regretting his decision to participate this season.

"I mean, he was lapped by us, so I don't know," Marko told Sky Sports F1 in the aftermath of the race. "Maybe he is thinking he should have stopped last year."

On the eve of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, Hamilton said such comments will only motivate him to get back to top form.

"People always love you when you're up, and love to kick you when you're down. It's a part of life," Hamilton told Sky Sports.

"Naturally, I've seen some people I've grown up admiring as a kid and even in the sport, that have come out with some things, some disrespectful, or not particularly respectful of my name.

"For me, I have to make sure I use that as fuel. I'm putting that into the pot, and I'm going to turn that into a positive and come back stronger. We are going to come back stronger as a team.

"Four bad races, or five, six, seven, 10 bad races… is not going to stop me doing what I love doing. It's not going to stop me in my tracks.

"I've been racing for 29 years and I've had way more difficult times than this and bounced back. It's not how you fall, it's how you get up.

"Nothing you say or do is going to stop me in my tracks."

Hamilton sits seventh in the drivers' championship standings after four races of the new season, having recorded just one podium finish so far this term.

 

Lewis Hamilton warned Formula One risks taking "a step backwards" if governing body FIA continues to impose "unnecessary" jewellery regulations on drivers.

New race director Niels Wittich, who replaced Michael Masi at the start of the season, reminded drivers at the Australian Grand Prix in early April that the FIA's code prohibits drivers wearing jewellery in the car.

Hamilton still competed in Melbourne with piercings in both ears and a nose stud, and Wittich has reiterated the rulings ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix this weekend.

Wittich explained that wearing jewellery under flameproof clothing can reduce protection and increase the risk of burn damage, but Hamilton remains staunch in his refusal to conform to the FIA's demands.

"I couldn't get any more jewellery on today," the Mercedes star told reporters on Friday.

"But I don't really have a lot more to add than what I already said the last time I was in front of you guys and we spoke about it.

"I feel it's almost like a step backwards. If you think of the steps we're taking as a sport and the more important issues and causes that we need to be focused on and really pushing.

"I think we've made such great strides as a sport. Look, we're here in Miami. This is such a small thing – I've been in the sport for 16 years, I've been wearing jewellery for 16 years.

"In the car I only ever have my earrings on and my nose ring, which I can't even remove. So it seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat."

The jewellery ban has been in place since 2004, but Wittich made a special effort to stress the rule in his pre-race notes in Melbourne before reaffirming his demands in the United States.

Hamilton also revealed he has reached out to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, although he is yet to get through, to try to find a resolution and encourage greater attention on more important matters.

"I am willing to sign a waiver to take the responsibility away from them if necessary," the seven-time world champion added. "It is about individuality and being who you are.

"I did try calling Mohammed this morning and I think he was super busy but I sent him a message. I wanted to reassure him and said: 'I want to be an ally. I don't want to fight with you guys over this.'

"It has never been a safety issue in the past. If they stop me, we have a spare driver. There are lots of things to do here."

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly was quick to back Hamilton.

"I do believe there are bigger things to focus on," Gasly said. "I appreciate the FIA are looking after our safety.

"But in my case I am religious and there are things I have with me that I do not feel comfortable not having in the car.

"In the end, we are the ones who go out there and put our lives at risk and I do feel it should be a personal choice. I hope in the end we could find a better solution than this very strict one."

Page 1 of 28
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.