Mohammed Ben Sulayem defends controversial decision which will anger Lewis Hamilton

The FIA have implemented a ban starting this year to block drivers from making political statements without prior approval.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has revealed that the ban on drivers making “political, religious or personal” statements has been “done with the acceptance and consultation and approval of the World Council”, with the FIA president attempting to make the governing body more neutral.

The likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have been incredible role models over recent years and have publicly supported the likes of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the LGBTQ+ community, through decorative helmets, specially designed clothing and speeches.

However, under the new rules, drivers would be breaching the FIA’s International Sporting Code (ISC) should they do any of the sort, unless they are granted permission by the governing body.

The FIA has been heavily criticised for the update to the ISC, with it yet to be seen whether the likes of Hamilton will take any notice of the sizeable rule change.

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Ben Sulayem, though, has explained somewhat why the changes have been made to the ISC, with the FIA president believing that the drivers have “other platforms” to express their personal, political views.

The FIA president is happy for the drivers to “go through” the FIA if they want to raise a point at a race weekend; however, it’s yet to be seen what will and won’t be allowed.

“I am a big believer in the sport,” Ben Sulayem told media at the Dakar Rally, including

“We are concerned with building bridges. You can use sport for peace reasons and all of this.

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“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.”

Ben Sulayem has denied that the FIA are attempting to silence the drivers, with the governing body’s president admitting that he too has his “own personal things”.

“I have my own personal things, OK, but it doesn’t mean I will use the FIA to do it,” added the FIA president.

“The FIA should be neutral, I believe, and we need the superstars in to make the sport. And they do such a great job when it comes to the competition that all of us enjoy.”

Clarity for the drivers on the new regulations is something Ben Sulayem has raised the importance of, with the stewards set to be responsible for determining what will result in a potential punishment.

The stewards will have “full power” over implementing the new regulations, not Ben Sulayem.

“It’s always clarity, there is the process,” said Ben Sulayem.

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“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.

“Some of the penalties, you can never put clarity and like if someone is pushing when it comes to the limits in the track, track limits, that’s very hard. That needs a steward to check, look at it again.

“But the stewards have the full power, not the FIA president.”