Race director fires warning at Lewis Hamilton over ‘safety concerns’ ahead of 2022 Australian GP

Niels Wittich has reminded drivers of a ban on jewellery during races.

Race director at this year’s Australian Grand Prix, Niels Wittich, has emphasised that there is rule in place prohibiting drivers from wearing jewellery while racing due to safety concerns.

The drivers’ race suits and undergarments are all required to be specifically flame-retardant to avoid adding to the risk of a fire during a crash.

The fireproof clothing has proven invaluable on multiple occasions in the history of Formula 1.

Jos Verstappen was able to clamber out of his Benetton at the German Grand Prix in 1994 when a fuel leak caused a fire during his pit stop, and Kimi Raikkonen was unaffected in 2009 when Heikki Kovalainen left his McLaren pit box with the fuel hose still attached, spitting fiery gasoline back at the Ferrari.

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Romain Grosjean was extremely fortuitous to walk away relatively unhurt from his enormous shunt at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2020 when his slammed into the barrier, snapping his Haas in half and leaving him momentarily trapped in an inferno.

Since then, the cars have been designed to detach the chassis from the engine during a crash without rupturing the fuel tank and exposing the highly flammable fuel, but there is a regulation dating back to 2005 that dictates that jewellery is banned in order to protect the drivers and marshals in the event of such an undesirable situation.

The FIA placed “an immediate ban on the wearing of jewellery (body piercing and heavy chains) by race and rally competitors.”

Sir Lewis Hamilton is often seen wearing jewellery in the paddock and sometimes even when in the cockpit, so it is conceivable that Wittich’s reminder was aimed predominantly at the Briton.

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“The wearing of jewellery in the form of body piercing or metal neck chains is prohibited during the competition and may therefore be checked before the start,” he wrote in 5.1 of his notes ahead of this weekend.

Lucas Di Grassi, Jean Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer were all fined in 2018 for failing to wear flame retardant underpants during Formula E races.