Stefano Domenicali fires back at Mohammed Ben Sulayem

Several drivers have been speaking out against the FIA ahead of the new season, over the ban on political statements.

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has responded to the FIA’s updated International Sporting Code (ISC), by insisting that the pinnacle of motorsport will continue to give drivers a “platform to discuss their opinions”, after the governing body introduced a ban on political statements.

Following the conclusion of the 2022 season, the FIA announced some controversial updates to the ISC, with one in particular having infuriated many drivers.

It was announced that political statements would be banned from 2023, unless permission is granted by the FIA.

Under the new rules, the likes of Lewis Hamilton will be banned from wearing a t-shirt or a helmet in support of a campaign or community, unless he asks the governing body for permission.

READ: ‘They’re all switching out’: Lewis Hamilton on Mercedes staff after James Vowles exit

Whether the drivers will follow the new update remains to be seen, with Domenicali having admitted that Formula 1 “will never put a gag on anyone”.

“Everyone wants to talk so to have the platform to say what they want in the right way the better it is,” Domenicali said.

“We have a huge opportunity because of the position of our sport which is more and more global, multicultural and multivalued.

“We are talking about 20 drivers, 10 teams and many sponsors, they have different ideas, different views. I cannot say one is right, one is wrong but it is right, if needed, to give them a platform to discuss their opinions in an open way. We will not change that approach as a sport.”

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The issue for F1 and the drivers is that the FIA are the sport’s regulators, meaning that they ultimately say what can and can’t be done.

Domenicali recognises this but is hopeful that the FIA “will clarify” what they exactly mean by a ban on ‘political statements’, with the Italian hoping that they simply mean that certain things can’t be done depending on the venue.

“We are talking about a regulation and the regulator is the FIA,” Domenicali added.

“I believe the FIA will clarify what has been stated, in terms of respecting certain places where you cannot do it. I am sure the FIA will share the same view as F1 but they are part of an Olympic federation so there are protocols to which they have to abide.”

Double Word Champion Max Verstappen has never been one to talk about politics; however, even the Dutchman discussed the matter at Red Bull’s recent launch of their 2023 car.

Verstappen made it clear that he doesn’t think banning the drivers from making statements is “necessary”, with the Dutchman expecting the ban to potentially have the opposite effect of what the FIA will be hoping for.

READ: F1 drivers expressing concern over Mohammed Ben Sulayem as he faces sacking

“Some people are more outspoken than others,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.

“I’m normally not outspoken of that because first of all, it’s tough as a racing driver to be fully committed to that as well, in terms of going into everything and making sure that you know all the facts right. But I don’t think it (the ban) is necessary.

“In a way, you’re basically making sure people are not allowed to speak anymore which I think we should be allowed and of course, like I said before, some people will speak a bit more, some not. But it was probably a bit unnecessary.”