Helmut Marko defends Lewis Hamilton as tensions with FIA grow

The FIA announced ahead of 2023 that drivers will be banned from making political statements, after updating the International Sporting Code.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has hit out at the FIA for making a “clearly wrong” decision in banning drivers from using their platform to show support and raise awareness for campaigns and communities, with the Austrian hailing F1 drivers as “responsible citizens”.

Following the 2022 season, the FIA made a huge update to the International Sporting Code (ISC), by banning “the general making and display of political, religious and personal statements or comments notably in violation of the general principle of neutrality promoted by the FIA under its statutes, unless previously approved in writing by the FIA for international competitions, or by the relevant ASN for national competitions within their jurisdiction”.

Effectively, drivers are no longer allowed to wear clothing or a helmet in support of a campaign or community, with talking about either also banned.

However, a driver can show support for a campaign or a community during a Grand Prix weekend should they be granted permission by the FIA first, with it yet to be seen how strict the governing body will be.

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Regardless, it is still being seen as an attempt by the FIA to take away a driver’s freedom of speech, with Valtteri Bottas having questioned himself why the governing body are trying to “control” what the drivers say and do.

Marko clearly agrees with Bottas and believes that “everyone” has the right to “express their opinion”, something that seemingly the FIA don’t agree with.

“This decision is clearly wrong,” Marko told RTL.

“[Drivers] are responsible citizens who are in the global public eye and know-how, and what, they have to say.

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“In general, we are in a democratic society and everyone can express their opinion.”

Following the ban, it means the likes of Lewis Hamilton can no longer wear a rainbow-themed helmet in support of the LGBTQ+ community unless he asks the FIA for permission first.

Should a driver ignore the update to the ISC, then they’ll presumably be punished heavily; however, whether that penalty will be a fine or a race ban will be discovered following a breach.

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem explained why the change was made, with the president not wanting the governing body to be used for “private personal agenda”.

“We are concerned with building bridges. You can use sport for peace reasons,” he told reporters.

“But one thing we don’t want is to have the FIA as a platform for private personal agenda.”