Stefano Domenicali insists Formula 1 'will never gag anyone'

Stefano Domenicali insists Formula 1 ‘will never gag anyone’ amid controversy between FIA and drivers over updated sporting code… but says they will NOT make a U-turn on controversial clause

  • The FIA updated its sporting code to clamp down on political statements 
  • Max Verstappen and Alex Albon both spoke out against the code for 2023 
  • CEO Stefano Domenicali has said Formula 1 ‘will never put a gag on anyone’

Stefano Domenicali has said Formula 1 ‘will never put a gag on anyone’ when asked about the governing body’s decision to clampdown on political statements.

The FIA updated its sporting code for 2023 and inserted a clause to ban drivers from making ‘political, religious and personal statements’ at official events without prior approval.

The decision has caused controversy between the FIA and drivers as the current crop of Formula 1 stars feel the clause infringes on their rights to protest and express their views.

F1 chiefs remained relatively silent on the matter while the likes of Alex Albon and Max Verstappen spoke out about their concerns over the new sporting code for the 2023 season. 

However, Domenicali has broken his silence and told The Guardian that F1 ‘will never put a gag on anyone’. He also said the sport’s governing body will not change their stance on the new clause. 

Stefano Domenicali (above) has said Formula 1 ‘will never put a gag on anyone’ when asked about the governing body’s decision to clampdown on political statements

Domenicali’s comments came shortly after Max Verstappen and Alex Albon spoke out

Speaking to The Guardian, Domenicali said: ‘F1 will never put a gag on anyone. Everyone wants to talk, so to have the platform to say what they want in the right way the better it is. We have a huge opportunity because of the position of our sport which is more and more global, multicultural and multi-valued.

‘We are talking about 20 drivers, 10 teams and many sponsors, they have different ideas, different views. I cannot say one is right, one is wrong but it is right, if needed, to give them a platform to discuss their opinions in an open way.

‘We will not change that approach as a sport. That should be the line of our sport, to give everyone the chance to speak in the right way, not with aggressive tones or to offend but with respect.’

Domenicali’s comments came shortly after Albon spoke to Sky Sports. The British-Thai driver said:  ‘I think more than anything it’s a bit of confusion. 

‘Last year we were focused on the We Race As One initiative and I think we were doing a good job addressing certain issues around the world. We’re using our profiles in the right way.

‘We were maybe going to some circuits that were slightly controversial, but we were handling it by addressing topics in these places that we felt needed awareness.

Albon – who drivers for Williams – says Formula 1 has taken a step back due to the clause 

Verstappen (left) says the new rule is ‘unnecessary’ as it ‘stops people from speaking’ when they should be allowed 

‘It seems like we’ve slightly gone back on that now. There is most probably a different view between the drivers, FIA – but even also F1. We need to understand and have a talk about it.’

While Verstappen said: ‘Everyone’s different so people are more outspoken than others. I’m normally not that outspoken – first of all it’s tough as a racing driver to be fully committed to that in terms of going into everything and making sure you know the facts.

‘But I don’t think [the rule] is necessary, because in a way you are making sure people are not allowed to speak and I think we should be allowed. It was probably a bit unnecessary.’ 

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