Formula One drivers told not to use sport for ‘personal agenda’

Drivers will need written permission to make ‘political, religious and personal statements’, head of governing body says.

Formula One
Unless the FIA grants approval in writing, drivers who make such statements will now be in breach of the rules, says FIA boss Ben Sulayem (left) [Mark Thompson/Getty Images]

Formula One drivers must not use the platform to make statements for their own “personal agenda”, the president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) says.

From next season, the drivers will need written permission from the FIA, Formula One’s governing body, to make “political, religious and personal statements”, Mohammed Ben Sulayem said on Tuesday.

“We are concerned with building bridges,” Ben Sulayem told reporters. “You can use sport for peace reasons, … but one thing we don’t want is to have the FIA as a platform for private personal agenda. We will divert from the sport. What does the driver do best? Driving. They are so good at it, and they make the business. They make the show. They are the stars. Nobody is stopping them.

“There are other platforms to express what they want. Everybody has this, and they are most welcome to go through the process of the FIA, to go through that.”

Former world champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were among the high-profile drivers who expressed their personal views in recent seasons.

Hamilton has stood up for human rights and racial equality while also addressing LGBTQ rights in conservative countries like Saudi Arabia, which has held two F1 races since 2021.

Vettel, who retired last year, has highlighted issues ranging from LGBTQ rights to climate change.

Ben Sulayem rejected the notion that the FIA was shutting down drivers’ freedom of expression, saying he wanted to “improve and clean up” the sport.

“I have my own personal things, but it doesn’t mean I will use the FIA to do it,” said Ben Sulayem, a former rally driver from the United Arab Emirates.

“The FIA should be neutral, I believe,” he said. “We need the superstars in to make the sport. If there is anything, you take the permission. If not, if they make any other mistake, it’s like speeding in the pit lane. If you do it, it’s very clear what you get.”

Source: Reuters