‘Never’: Christian Horner defends FIA in row with Lewis Hamilton

Any unapproved political, religious or personal gestures are now banned by the FIA.

Formula 1 has been used by the drivers as a platform for them to express their views more and more in recent seasons.

The messages sent by drivers through a variety of gestures are often ones of support or protest, raising awareness about various issues and injustices in the world.

Sebastian Vettel often wore unique helmet designs to protest against issues such as environmental crimes in the country hosting that weekend’s Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton has worn a number of t-shirts to promote equality and support campaigns such as ‘Black Lives Matter’.

The FIA have now banned any political, religious or personal gestures from the sport unless they have previously been approved, claiming that the drivers should stick to driving and keep politics separate from motorsport.

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Understandably there has been a lot of outrage about this decision, with the likes of Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas speaking to the media to express their disapproval of the rule, suggesting that the drivers should be free to say whatever they want, within reason.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has given a diplomatic view on the new rule, claiming that the right balance needs to be found moving forward.

“I think, first of all, sports should never be used as a political tool. And I think that sport, in many ways, is there to obviously entertain, but to also have an element of escapism within it,” he said.

“But certainly we at Red Bull have never constrained our drivers to not have the freedom of speech either, or the freedom of their opinions or the ability to speak their minds, because they do have a voice.

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“I think it’s a matter of finding a balance, and in the world that we live in today, everybody has a voice, and that shouldn’t be suppressed. But of course, it does have to be done responsibly.

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“So we don’t want a load of robots that are without opinion going racing, but like with all these things, there just has to be a sensible balance.”

It has been suggested that Lewis Hamilton has been specifically targeted and silenced by these new rules, however the Brit is yet to comment on the FIA’s decision.

With the Bahrain Grand Prix only weeks away, the drivers will hope to have some clarity on the situation before the race weekend begins.