Carlos Sainz queries how the FIA will penalise Lewis Hamilton

From the start of the 2023 season, drivers will be banned from making political statements, unless prior permission is granted by the FIA.

In what appears to be a general consensus, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has become the latest in a long line of Formula 1 drivers to criticise the FIA for banning “freedom of speech or freedom to express yourselves”, with the Spaniard having warned that the questionable decision “could backfire”.

It was announced not long after the conclusion of the 2022 season that “political statements” would be banned from 2023 onwards in all FIA governed championships, in order to become more aligned with sporting governing bodies across the world.

As a result, drivers will be banned from wearing themed clothing or helmets in support of the likes of the LGBTQ+ community or human rights, something which Lewis Hamilton is already set to break.

The seven-time World Champion has been a huge supporter of several campaigns and communities over the years, with the 38-year-old having done so much incredible work in raising awareness for the likes of women’s rights in the Middle East.

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Hamilton has already revealed his helmet for 2023, which features streaks of the LGBTQ+ flag, to show his committed support to the community.

Under the newly updated FIA International Sporting Code (ISC), though, Hamilton’s helmet should be banned, meaning he could be punished at the season opener.

However, drivers are allowed to demonstrate their support for a campaign or a community if they seek permission from the FIA first, who’ll then decide if it’s acceptable or not.

Whilst Sainz admits himself that he’s not someone who takes “very strong stances” in regard to politics, he recognises that what the FIA have done isn’t right, with their “tricky call” having been the wrong one.

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“Personally, I don’t think it will affect me massively because I’ve never been a driver taking very strong stances,” Sainz told Sky Sports F1.

“I always do use my social media to express my concerns or my values as every athlete does nowadays, but I do feel it’s honestly a very tricky call made by the FIA there to try to suddenly ban this freedom of speech or freedom to express yourself and your worries about the modern world.

“I think it could backfire at some point.”

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With several drivers set to take no notice of the updated rules, it remains to be seen how they’ll be punished, given that the FIA will have to do something to ensure that the ISC isn’t broken.

This is something Sainz wants to find out, with the Spaniard wanting to know what the penalty will be for “talking” or “for not talking”.

“Also, I think we need to all sit down and see exactly what are the penalties for talking, for not talking, and how are we going to be treated?” Sainz concluded.