FIA boss issues Lewis Hamilton threat after controversial rule change

Lewis Hamilton on difficult season for Mercedes in November

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FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem has demanded Lewis Hamilton to stick to driving on F1 weekends and ditch protests after a new rule change was announced. The boss warned drivers will “divert from the sport” if they make their private agendas known over race weekends.

Instead, the sport’s stars have been urged to use other platforms to spread their message rather than doing so on the F1 grid. Hamilton has been among the biggest campaigners on the grid in recent years, pushing for drivers to take the knee ahead of races to show support against racism.

Ben Sulayem said: “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.” It comes after the FIA revealed a ban on political statements from the start of the 2023 season.

Drivers are no longer allowed to make any political, religious and personal statements or comments that could compromise F1’s neutrality. The FIA warn exceptions will need to be approved in writing by bosses.

Hamilton was investigated by race officials back in 2020 after wearing a top in support of a murdered woman. The Mercedes star’s T-shirt read: “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”

Meanwhile, on the back of the top featured a picture of her face alongside the words “say her name”. The FIA changed the event notes after the incident to ensure it was not repeated.

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Drivers are now forced to wear their race suits done up to the neck on the podium and during post-race interviews. However, drivers have been urged to fight back over the issue ahead of the race in Bahrain.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Rob Koehler, chief executive at Global Athlete said: “‘It is blatantly hypocritical to tell athletes to stick to their sports and stay out of politics while the FIA consistently leverage politics to their advantage.

“Freedom of expression is a basic fundamental human right and sport rules cannot supersede human rights. Many people look up to athletes as agents of change. The example set by the FIA is that every child, youth and adult watching the sport should remain silent on social justice issues. It is simply wrong. Shame on the FIA.”

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