Sebastian Vettel accuses FIA of ‘personal’ feud with Lewis Hamilton

Sebastian Vettel believes that Sir Lewis Hamilton has been "targeted" by the reemphasis of the ban on jewellery.

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel has defended Sir Lewis Hamilton amid race director Niels Wittich’s reinforcement of the regulation banning jewellery from being worn inside the cockpit.

The rule was introduced in 2005 in a bid to limit the risk of ignition during a crash, as well as to avoid aggravating potential burn injuries in case a fire does start.

Hamilton is known for wearing jewellery, and he has piercings on his nose and ears that he says he “can’t even remove,” indicating that he has no interest in taking them off.

READ: W Series driver hails Vettel and Hamilton as ‘figureheads’ of F1

In a further act of defiance, Hamilton arrived at the Friday press conference in Miami with three watches on three different time zones, as well as a plethora of necklaces, bracelets and rings.

Wittich also confirmed that the FIA may search drivers to ensure that they are wearing fireproof underwear, prompting Vettel to amusingly wear a pair of underpants on his way to the garage ahead of practice.

The 34-year-old believes that Hamilton has been personally singled out by the governing body, and indicated his agreement with the Briton’s assessment that the sport has “bigger fish to fry.”

“Probably at this stage, it is more of a personal thing and I feel, in a way, [it is] particularly targeted to Lewis,” he said.

“We spoke about underpants as well, but really is that the most exciting thing we can talk about? In a way, there is a concern for safety if you have stuff and the car does catch fire it would be unpleasant.

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“To some degree, it is personal freedom and we are old enough to make our choices outside the car. We should [also] be old enough to make choices also inside the car.”

Both Vettel and Hamilton have been campaigners for social equality, justice and ecological awareness during their time in the pinnacle of motorsport, leading Aston Martin ambassador and W Series driver Jessica Hawkins to label them “figureheads” of the sport.

In light of the plenitude of issues F1 has been affronting in recent years, Hamilton is struggling to understand why the jewellery debate has become so prepotent.

“It’s almost like a step backwards if you think about the steps we’re taking as a sport and the more important issues and causes we need to be focusing on,” he said.

READ: ‘The FIA ​​has to draw a line’: Wolff comments on risk of Hamilton clashing with FIA over jewellery ban

“I think we’ve made such great strides as a sport… this is such a small thing.”

It was put to the seven-time champion that he may be forced to sit this weekend’s race in Miami out depending on how stringent the FIA want to be with the rule, and Hamilton did not rule out that possibility.

“If they stop me then so be it. We’ve got a spare driver, so we’re well prepped for the weekend. There’s lots to do in the city anyway,” he amusingly replied.